Essex man pleads guilty to insurance money scam $630,000 financed his high living

October 24, 1991|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

The head of two defunct Towson-area insurance companies pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday to stealing more than $630,000 from his clients from 1983 to 1991, using the money for six cars, an Ocean City condominium and two luxury boats.

Paul G. Patterson, 47, of Woody Avenue, Essex, could serve 15 years in prison on the single count of felony theft, but prosecutors agreed to recommend no more than eight years if he paid $435,000 in restitution, said an assistant attorney general, Christopher J. Romano.

Patterson, who headed Patterson/Wagner & Associates and The Patterson Agencies, took money given to him for annuities and for life insurance premiums and deposited it in bank accounts that he set up under the companies' names but controlled himself, Mr. Romano told Judge Leonard S. Jacobson.

Patterson took thousands of dollars from clients, including local builder Frank Favazza, and Donald and Mary Bell Grempler, who own a real estate firm, according to Mr. Romano.

Among the victims who were repaid -- with other victims' money -- was Orioles Hall-of-Famer Jim Palmer, whose $3,300 payment for life insurance was stolen, the prosecutor said.

He said Patterson's scheme unraveled when Montgomery County developer Joel Meisel wanted two $5 million life insurance policies in 1989 and 1990, and gave Patterson the money to pay premiums of $20,000 and $40,000. When told by one of the insurance companies that there was a problem with his policy, he called the attorney general's office.

A search of Patterson's Towson offices last March revealed that he had deposited Mr. Meisel's premium payments in local bank accounts he had opened in the insurance companies' names, Mr. Romano said.

After a grand jury subpoena in December, Mr. Patterson let his insurance license lapse -- but he still accepted and kept a $4,700 premium from another client, the statement of facts said.

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