A former Wilber couple considered persons of interest in the disappearance and death of Sydney Loofe entered pleas Tuesday in an unrelated federal fraud case.
In separate hearings Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Lincoln, Aubrey Trail and Bailey Boswell each pleaded guilty to a single count of interstate transportation of stolen property.
Prosecutors say they will dismiss the remaining counts against them in that case during sentencing in August. Boswell had faced eight additional charges, Trail 13.
The fraud case against the pair — the last people believed to have seen Loofe alive — has eased pressure off investigators and prosecutors as they quietly look into how Loofe died and what roles Trail and Boswell might have played in her suspicious death.
To date, no charges have been filed related to her death, and investigators have not provided an update since December. It's unclear what impact, if any, Tuesday's developments might have on their work.
Boswell entered her plea first.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Russell laid out how Boswell helped Trail, her boyfriend, scam a Hiawatha, Kansas, couple, identified only as M.E. and B.E., of hundreds of thousands of dollars by claiming a gold coin was worth far more than it was. The plot involved a website and Boswell acting as a broker to sell it.
When Russell finished, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Zwart asked Boswell if what he said was true and if she knew Trail.
“Yes, ma’am,” Boswell answered to both.
The judge asked Boswell what she did to get the Kansas man to travel to Beatrice to meet her in a parking lot Oct. 20, and give her $5,000 and a gun.
"I just went there because Aubrey told me to go," the 24-year-old said.
But she said she knew the coin wasn’t worth much and it was all a scam.
Nearly five hours later, Trail was in the same courtroom admitting his involvement in the plot.
Russell said Trail, who had given the Kansas couple a fake name, was responsible for duping them into giving him $375,000 between December 2015 and Nov. 7, 2017. Boswell didn't join in the scam until February 2017.
Specifically, Russell said, Trail was pleading to a charge for getting the couple to drive from Kansas to Falls City on Aug. 24, 2016, to give him $12,000 they thought was going toward the coin's sale. Trail said they would share the proceeds.
Since Trail's arrest in November, the 51-year-old has made repeated statements to the media about his involvement in this fraud and Loofe's death. But at Tuesday's hearing, he said little.
The FBI has said the fraud was uncovered during the course of a separate ongoing investigation into the disappearance and death of Loofe, a 24-year-old Lincoln woman who was reported missing Nov. 16 after she didn't show up for work.
She had gone on a date with Boswell a day earlier and was last seen in the Wilber area.
In December, shortly after law enforcement tracked down Trail and Boswell near Branson, Missouri, and brought them back to Saline County, Loofe's remains were found in rural Clay County.
Trail and Boswell have been in jail on the federal fraud charges ever since.
Now, they each face up to 10 years in federal prison, $250,000 in fines and hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution.
Trail had been set to enter a plea in the case in April, but before his scheduled hearing April 5, he decided to go to trial instead. He wrote in a letter to the Journal Star at that time that he declined to take the plea deal because it required him to implicate Boswell in the scheme.
Korey Reiman, Trail's court-appointed attorney, said his client and the government believed their plea deal fairly resolved the case.
Meanwhile, the Nebraska Attorney General's office and Lancaster County Attorney's office have said little about their ongoing investigations.
Reached soon after Trail's plea, County Attorney Pat Condon said he hadn't yet heard about the plea and was unsure how it would affect his office's ongoing investigation.
The Attorney General's office had indicated that the state would wait for the end of the fraud case to prosecute Trail on a gun charge.
"Today's pleas are specific to the federal case and do not have bearing on our office's charges," said Suzanne Gage, spokeswoman for the Attorney General's office, in a text message Tuesday.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said he couldn't say if Boswell's plea included an agreement to cooperate in any other open investigations.