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Lyme Insurance Agent Headed to Prison for Financial Crime

A former insurance agent will soon head to federal prison to begin an 18 month sentence for bilking her elderly mother-in-law out of nearly $500,000.

Josephine Rich, 57, whose family has long operated Everett Rich Insurance Agency, was found guilty of bank fraud and other federal crimes last year. She stole money from Verna Rich’s accounts at Ledyard Savings Bank, according to federal court documents.

Rich used the money to support herself, her family and the business, according to court documents. She was ordered to repay the full amount before being incarcerated.

Rich tried to avoid prisontime; she asked a judge to sentence her to six months of home confinement, three years of supervised release and 1,000 hours of community service.

To support that request, Rich noted that she spent hundreds of hours cooperating with federal officials, including preparing spread sheets, driving to Concord to meet with investigators to explain how she spent the money and helping the government calculate the extent of her crimes.

“This not only saved the Government a huge amount of money, but also made the Government aware of additional transactions they were not aware of prior to her disclosure,” Rich’s attorney, George Ostler, wrote in court filings. “Mrs. Rich was responsive to the Government’s requests, consistent with her goal of giving a fair and transparent understanding of all the fraudulent activity.”

Rich contends that a difficult childhood led to mental health issues that her therapist believed played a role in her criminal actions, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors sought a 27-month prison sentence. While acknowleding Rich “aggressively assisted the government’s efforts to unravel the maze of relevant financial transactions,” once she became aware of the investigation, prosecutors argued those efforts were only necessary because she engaged in a years-long canard that merited punishment.

“While commendable, the amount of time and effort that the defendant devoted to her cooperation was driven by the longevity and complexity of the offenses she committed,” Assistant United States Attorney Robert Kinsella wrote. “The criminal conduct in this case is extremely serious and requires a significant period of incarceration to promote respect for the law and deter other people from engaging in similar conduct.”

Rich did not respond to a message left at her home yesterday, and Ostler did not respond to a message.

The transactions involved several bank and investment accounts belonging to Verna Rich, who also could not be reached for comment. Rich forged checks, wrote checks that bounced and mixed legitimately acquired money with illicit money in business funds, between 2004 and 2009, prosecutors said.

Most of the money was passed through the insurance company, which is owned by her husband, Brian. Rich formerly worked as the company’s bookkeeper

Rich was initially scheduled to report to prison on Friday, but prosecutors have agreed to delay her reporting for 30 days, after the Federal Bureau of Prison failed to determine where Rich would be incarcerated.

In May 2011, she pleaded guilty in Grafton Superior Court to keeping $20,000 belonging to a client to pay off renovations to the company’s office on Dorchester Road.

Rich received a suspended 18 month sentence, a $4,000 fine and had her state insurance agent license revoked.

Mark Davis can be reached at mcdavis@vnews.com or 603-727-3304.