A Texas brewery owner and financial adviser murdered a client, staged his death as a suicide, and then drained the man’s bank account using his phone, according to police.
Keith Ashley, 48, the founder of Nine Band Brewing in Allen, Texas, was arrested this week in the fatal shooting of James “Jim” Seegan, who was slain earlier this year.
In the early evening hours of Feb. 19, Seegan’s wife found her husband’s body in an upstairs office of the couple’s home. He’d been shot in the head and a semi-automatic pistol was found in his hand. A cryptic message was found beside him.
“Directly next to him was a typed note indicating it was a suicide,” Carrollton Police said in a statement.
The last line of the purported suicide note mysteriously referenced Ashley, detectives said.
“My last friend Keith Ashley will help you,” the note read, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Dallas Morning News.
Seegan's death was initially ruled a suicide, the newspaper reported.
But there were reasons to question the cause of death. For one, the pistol was found in Seegan's left hand, but his wife told investigators her spouse was right-handed. He also wasn't a gun owner, the affidavit alleged.
An autopsy later concluded that Seegan had been drugged using the anesthetic Etomidate, corroborating detectives’ theory he had been incapacitated shortly before his death. Detectives said the man wasn’t a known drug-user, nor had he recently required medical care. The drug isn’t easily obtainable outside hospitals, according to investigators.
However, Ashley also worked as a registered nurse at City Hospital at White Rock in Dallas at the time of Seegan's death. He was fired in July for working too few shifts, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Surveillance cameras also captured Ashley leaving Seegan’s home shortly after the killing and he'd been the last visitor at the couple’s home, detectives said. The two men were reportedly friends. Ashley, who also served as Seegan’s financial adviser, often frequented his home, according to authorities.
After Seegan’s death, Ashley allegedly convinced his wife to turn over the dead man’s cell phone. The brewery owner then allegedly wired himself $20,000 from Seegan’s bank account, without permission, according to the Dallas Morning News. He also “accidentally” deleted incriminating text messages between him and Seegan, police said.
During local police's murder investigation, authorities concluded that Ashley was also behind a Ponzi scheme, in which he allegedly swindled upwards of $1.1 million out of investors through his firm North Texas Money Management, the Dallas Morning News reported. He used investor capital to cover expenses at his brewery, pay off mortgages and student loans, and fund trips to a casino, court documents alleged. The suspected scheme stretches back to 2013, according to NBC affiliate KXAS-TV. Ashley now faces separate federal wire fraud charges.
The FBI assisted local authorities in the investigation.
Nine Bands Brewing was founded in 2014, according to the Dallas Morning News. It was the first microbrewery in the small Texas city. A call to the brewery requesting comment was not immediately returned on Friday.
Ashley, who was taken into custody last week, appeared in federal court on Tuesday. He's being held without bond at Fannin County Jail, about 75 miles northeast of Dallas.
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