A Burleson couple found by a civil jury last month to have been part of a conspiracy that led to the murder of the woman’s mother by Irish Travellers have now been indicted on federal charges in the case.
Virginia and Mark Buckland were indicted Wednesday in South Carolina on a count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, according to federal court records.
Also indicted was Charles "Chuck" Mercier, an insurance agent through whom the Bucklands had taken out $5 million worth of life insurance policies on Virgina Buckland's mother, Anita Fox, in 2007 and 2008.
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Fox, 69, was found fatally stabbed Sept. 23, 2014, inside a Colleyville house where she worked as a housekeeper.
Police later accused Bernard “Little Joe” Gorman and his father, Bernard "Big Joe" Gorman — both members of the nomadic ethnic group known as Irish Travellers — of stalking and then killing Fox.
Officials say they killed Fox in order to collect on a $1 million life insurance policy that they and other family members had taken over from the Bucklands.
The Bucklands are English Travellers, according to court documents.
According to the indictments, Mercier and the Bucklands are accused of committing mail and wire fraud while conspiring together from at least November 2007 to defraud insurance companies.
Though it does not identify Fox by name, the indictment alleges that the trio falsified the financial status of an "elderly woman" and forged a signature to transfer ownership of the life insurance policy.
"It was further a part of the scheme and artifice to defraud the insurance company to cause the death of the insured by stabbing and bludgeoning, to make the defendants immediately eligible to collect the benefits of the policy," the indictment says.
If convicted on the federal charge, the three face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
Court records do not indicate whether the Bucklands have an attorney representing them in the federal case.
They are scheduled to appear in a federal district courtroom in South Carolina on July 3.
The indictments came after the U.S. attorney's office in South Carolina was presented a 112-page report summarizing an investigation by Lt. Mark Schupp and Sgt. Randy Waters with the Texas Department of Insurance.
The Bucklands’ former attorney has said that Mercier had recommended selling one of the life insurance policies to a third party after Mark Buckland complained about the pricey premiums.
He said his clients did not know the Gormans or have any contact with them, and were not involved in Fox's murder.
Big Joe Gorman died of apparent natural causes before he could be arrested in the case. His son, Little Joe Gorman, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in January 2017 in exchange for a 14-year prison sentence.
Recent civil trial
After Fox’s death, the Bucklands filed lawsuits to try to force the life insurance companies to pay out the $4 million owed them from the four policies they still possessed.
Though the Bucklands were never charged criminally in Fox's death, Al Fox III — Fox's son— filed motions to intervene, claiming his sister and her husband were “negligently responsible” for Anita Fox’s death and thus prohibited by law from receiving the benefits.
Last month, a Tarrant County civil jury unanimously agreed that the Bucklands willfully — and with malice — were part of a conspiracy that led to the murder of Anita Fox.
The jury's decision essentially blocked the Bucklands from collecting on Anita Fox's insurance policies.
The jury also awarded Anita Fox’s estate — of which Al Fox is the executor — more than $166 million in exemplary damages and for the pain and mental anguish caused to Anita Fox in the last few minutes of her life.
On June 15, the judge in the civil trial ordered that Al Fox III be given the more than $4.5 million in life insurance benefits that has been sitting in a trust account, accruing interest.
That money, according to the order, will be shared equally between Fox III and his other sister, Leela Joles.