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Pennsylvania insurance agent charged with fraud

A Pennsylvania insurance agent is facing federal charges after a lengthy investigation by the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission. A charge of securities fraud was filed against the 68-year-old man in Harrisburg on Sept. 28 by a representative of the U.S. Attorney's Office. The charge carries a penalty of up to 25 years in a federal prison.

According to authorities, the man used money that his clients had given him for investment purposes to pay his personal and business expenses. The man is said to have sent his clients fabricated account statements to conceal the nature of his activities. Investigators claim that the man defrauded 30 of his clients of more than $1.5 million since the mid-1990s.

It is believed that the man has agreed to enter into a plea arrangement with the U.S. Attorney's Office. Under the deal, the man would plead guilty to the securities fraud charge and pay full restitution in return for sentencing consideration. Such an agreement is not final until it has been approved by a judge. The SEC has also filed a civil claim against the man.

A criminal defense attorney may often vigorously advocate on behalf of their client by challenging the merits of a prosecutor's case, but there are occasions when pursuing a plea agreement could be a more prudent strategy. Prosecutors often work under a heavy caseload, and they may be willing to offer a reduced sentence or a reduction of charges in return for a guilty plea. This will not only lighten a prosecutor's workload, but it would also protect them from the uncertainty of a courtroom trial. A defense attorney may recommend that their client enters a guilty plea when the evidence against them is particularly compelling or the possible sentence is severe.

Source: PennLive, "Feds charge central Pa. insurance agent in $1.5M investment fraud", Matt Miller, September 30, 2014

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