Ex-insurance agent receives 18 months in jail in fraud case

Howard County man stole nearly $170,000 from victims, state says

August 19, 1999|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A Howard County man was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in jail for stealing nearly $170,000 from 15 victims, including several ministers, a widow and two young children, the state attorney general's office said.

Former insurance agent Bartholomew Andrew Butler, 38, of the 4500 block of Kings Cup Court in Ellicott City pleaded guilty to theft, insurance fraud and forgery charges in Prince George's County Circuit Court.

Judge Joseph S. Casula sentenced Butler to 4 1/2 years in prison but suspended all but 18 months and ordered him to serve 5 years probation. He also ordered Butler to pay $48,937.45 in restitution after his release from jail.

According to a statement of facts presented in court yesterday: Butler stole money that had been given to him to purchase life insurance, annuities and other investment products for clients in Prince George's, Montgomery County and Baltimore City. In some cases, Butler cashed checks that his clients gave for investments and spent the money.

In one instance, he stole $30,000 from a Suitland widow -- money she received from a life insurance company when her husband died. To cover up his theft, Butler printed phony annual investment account statements, making it appear that he invested the money with a national brokerage and that it was earning a return.

Using a similar ruse, Butler took checks for $10,000 from a Baltimore pastor, and another $7,000 from a church secretary, supposedly to invest in an annuity policy. He forged the endorsements of the annuity company, cashed the checks and pocketed the money.

In other cases, Butler paid the insurance company a fraction of the funds entrusted to him for investment. For example, he invested $500 of $30,000 given to him to purchase annuity policies on behalf of two minor children after their mother died. Again, Butler created fake documentation to make it look as if the insurance company received the full amount.

Butler was charged with insurance fraud for withdrawing money from clients' insurance accounts and using it for his own purposes. He was also convicted of selling insurance without a license for continuing to operate as an agent after his license was revoked in December 1996.

The case was investigated by the Insurance Fraud Division of the Maryland Insurance Administration after it received a complaint from one of the victims.

Pub Date: 8/19/99

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