Massachusetts man accused of wife’s murder sentenced for earlier art fraud

By Thomson Reuters Feb 20, 2024 | 3:58 PM

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON (Reuters) – A Massachusetts man who was charged with his wife’s murder last year after her disappearance garnered national headlines was sentenced on Tuesday to more than three years in prison for engaging in an earlier scheme to sell counterfeit Andy Warhol paintings.

U.S. District Judge William Young in Boston at the request of prosecutors and the lawyer for Brian Walshe did not factor in the pending murder charges related to the death of his wife in deciding what sentence he deserved following his 2021 guilty plea to wire fraud and other charges.

Young said the “primary driver” of the sentence of 37 months in prison was instead to deter others from engaging in art fraud. He also ordered Walshe to pay $475,000 in restitution. About $95,000 has already been paid.

Walshe, 49, had admitted to selling a California gallery and a Parisian art consultant fake Warhol paintings based on original art pieces that Walshe defrauded a former college classmate into giving him to help sell. Those originals were never recovered.

Walshe’s lawyer, Tracy Miner, had urged the judge to impose a non-prison sentence, just as a different federal judge, Douglas Woodlock, nearly did in October 2021 in the same case, which was first filed in 2018.

Woodlock instead at the last minute delayed imposing a sentence when a problem arose with a check Walshe wrote to pay restitution to his victims.

The issue with the check was resolved, but it prompted an investigation concerning his finances, and Walshe’s ultimate sentencing was further delayed for years until the case was reassigned to Young in July.

Walshe had remained under house arrest in the interim, and in January was charged with murdering his wife, Ana Walshe, who was reported missing by her employer, a real estate company in Washington, D.C., after she was last seen on New Year’s Day.

Walshe originally told investigators that his wife left their Cohasset, Massachusetts, home early in a ride-hailing service for the airport to go to Washington for work. But prosecutors in Norfolk County say Walshe actually killed her.

Prosecutors said he had searched on Google “can you throw away body parts,” and authorities recovered trash bags Walshe disposed of that contained items stained with blood as well as a hacksaw, Ana Walshe’s COVID-19 vaccine card, and boots she was last seen wearing.

Walshe has pleaded not guilty and faces life in prison if convicted. No trial date has been set.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Bill Berkrot)