There are vast swaths of Loudoun County where the houses are still far from the road, with spacious pastures in front and back. This makes it easier when you’re someone like Linda Speaks Tribby, who stole $14 million from four of her customers at Wachovia Bank, to hide all the cars, tractors, four-wheelers, zebras, peacocks, emus, pheasants and ponies you’ve bought with all the money you’ve embezzled.
Yes, zebras and peacocks. Are you saying if you had $14 million, you wouldn’t pick up a couple zebras for the backyard? Sure you would.
But Linda Tribby didn’t just buy stuff for her property on Morrisonville Road, for which she made signs declaring it to be Brilin Rose Farm (for her husband Brian, herself and her daughter Rose). Or for her house in the historic district of Waterford, into which she poured untold thousands of dollars and then moved into after she split with her husband, Brian Tribby, and took up with her lover, Scott Whitmore.
She also bought a helicopter. And a luxury recreational vehicle. And cars, SUVs and vintage vehicles for both her boyfriend AND her husband (!!!). And a house in West Virginia for her daughter to live in while she went to college. And 200 acres of land in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. And a house on a lake in another part of the Adirondacks. And 100 acres of land in western Nevada. AND more than two dozen investment and other bank accounts.
Whew. And you thought $14 million didn’t go that far anymore. Actually, the feds think she still has $8 million stashed somewhere.
It only took Linda Tribby seven years to steal $14 million from several apparently well-heeled Wachovia customers, who believed her when she told them that she had “wealth management accounts” that paid tax-free interest. The customers poured their millions in, and Tribby proceeded to manage her own wealth accordingly, from her desk at a Wachovia branch in Purcellville, court records show.
Using the high-tech software known as “Microsoft Word,” Tribby batted out some phony bank statements, slapped the Wachovia logo on top, and mailed them to her victims. So Bernie Madoff wasn’t the only one stealing from the rich in the go-go 2000s.
But unlike Madoff, who stole billions and received a 150-year prison sentence, Tribby is only looking at about seven years in prison, the same amount of time she spent living the high life in Loudoun, New York State, Nevada and points unknown. Federal sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence of 78 to 97 months for her. As usual, the sentence for a white-collar crime is far too low, even in federal court. She’s now 42, so she’ll be about 49 when she gets out.
A fair price to pay for seven years of high-dollar fun? Possibly. Though her husband and her parents, who live together in a modest house outside of Lovettsville, will have to find a new place to live.
That apparently isn’t a top priority for Tribby’s husband, Brian Tribby. He’s in New Zealand on a hunting trip now, his father-in-law, Calvin Speaks, volunteered when I went to visit them the other day.
No telling where Whitmore is. He wasn’t home when I stopped by the nicely renovated Love Shack that he and Linda rented in the otherwise gritty town of Brunswick, Md. A gleaming Ford 3500 Ram truck and a Cadillac 300 Hemi C were parked out front, and a swimming pool and hot tub were installed in the back. It’s just a little ol’ place where they could get together, as the B-52s like to say.
When last we saw Whitmore, he was sitting next to Linda Tribby on their plane coming back from Las Vegas. Here’s where Tribby spun her final, futile deceptions.
Rather than wait for Tribby to get off, the feds went onto the plane, which is always a bad sign for someone. Tribby was ready, it seems. The agents asked if she was traveling with anyone. “No,” she said, with boyfriend Whitmore sitting right next to her.
Do you have any carry-on bags? the agents asked. “No,” Tribby lied again. Directly above her was a bag with $37,000 cash, which she later said she’d won in Vegas. Life in the high-roller suites is good. Whitmore had about ten grand with him, prosecutors said.
So off Tribby went to the FBI’s branch office in Manassas, which looks like a big gray box only without the personality. There, she handwrote a five-page confession. In her purse was a set of apology notes to her husband, her boyfriend, her daugher, her parents and God. Hey, if prayer works, a handwritten mea culpa is truly a special touch.
Back in the Brunswick Love Shack, the feds found more notes from Tribby, urging everyone to “keep faith in God!” and a set of checks to be mailed in the event of her arrest. Her lawyers called her “a deeply religious person.” No notes or checks to her victims, somehow.
The feds asked Tribby for a list of all her assets, where she neglected to mention her two properties in the Adirondacks and a couple of unfrozen bank accounts, court records note. When Tribby asked to be released on bond, the feds noted that “over $8 million is unaccounted for,” and that she might flee with a hefty bank account to help her. The feds also found that Tribby tried to transfer $50,000 from an unfrozen account in New York to her mother in Lovettsville.
Prosecutors also characterized the various apology notes to family, and God, as “good-bye letters,” reflecting “her intention to flee.” Her note to her parents says, “Stay strong for Rose. Love Brian & Scott. I did.” Emphasis added by the feds, and by me. Not clear why Brian and Scott aren’t also in jail. Much less New Zealand.
Tribby’s lawyers said she wrote the notes in case she didn’t get to apologize in person. Totally no way, the prosecutors said. Prisoners get to speak to their families.
In her house on Second Street in Waterford, she had left some checks in envelopes. One was for $600,000, reportedly to pay off a mortgage, and another was for $120,000 for her daughter’s college tuition. She was trying to get her family’s financial affairs in order, using the stolen money, before she took off, the feds said.
And here’s one of my favorite parts, from Tribby’s plea to be released on bond: “Ms. Tribby would like to reside with her partner Scott Whitmore,” for at least one last stay in The Brunswick Love Shack! Stay away fools, ‘cause love rules at the Love Shack.
The judge said no Love Shack. No bond. Tribby then pleaded guilty. She’ll be sentenced June 3.