Financial adviser accused of defrauding vulnerable clients

Indicted by grand jury for alleged theft of more than $838,350

August 16, 2011|By Eileen Ambrose, The Baltimore Sun

A federal grand jury indicted a Baltimore financial adviser Tuesday for mail fraud in an alleged scheme to defraud vulnerable clients including an 85-year-old with dementia of more than $838,500, according to the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland.

Federal prosecutors say Ralph Edward Thomas Jr., 52, was vice president of a Harbor Bank subsidiary in late 2001 when he convinced a woman who was a trustee of her injured daughter's $3 million legal settlement to move the account to Harbor Bank.

Thomas siphoned off about $756,964 from the account, according to the indictment, and used the money to buy a Reisterstown house and to pay off credit cards.

Prosecutors say Thomas also took out three mortgages on the woman's residence without her permission and used the proceeds for himself.

In 2006, they say, Thomas was working as a financial adviser for Wells Fargo Advisors and oversaw the distributions of an annuity for a Baltimore retiree and her 85-year-old sister, who suffered from dementia.

Thomas withdrew $75,000 from the annuity and used about half the money for personal purposes, according to the indictment.

A court appearance has not been scheduled.

Thomas faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Prosecutors are seeking $838,350.04, including investment accounts owned by Thomas, the home in Reisterstown, and luxury automobiles.

Thomas could not be reached for comment.

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