AMARILLO (CN) – An Amarillo insurance agent who defrauded elderly clients of more than $600,000 has been sentenced to five years and 10 months in federal prison. Her son is already serving his sentence of seven years and three months.
Janice Demmitt, 60, was convicted at trial on one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, eight counts of wire fraud and 11 counts of money laundering. Her son, Timothy Fry, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering.
“Ms. Demmitt’s greed robbed her clients, most of them in their golden years, of their hard-earned security,” U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña said in a statement announcing the sentence. “In fact, she not only robbed these vulnerable clients of their savings, she robbed them of their dignity.”
Prosecutors say Demmitt and her son ran an independent insurance agency in Amarillo, in which they sold annuities to investors as registered agents of Allianz Life Insurance Co.
Allianz has distanced itself from the independent agents, saying it terminated Fry’s contract in May 2008 and Demmitt’s contract in January 2009.
According to the U.S. attorney: “Fry and Demmitt represented to their clients that Allianz would match each investment they made, up to $100,000, and encouraged their investors to either cash in or borrow against their existing Allianz annuities and use those proceeds to reinvest to take advantage of the ‘matching’ funds. However, instead of reinvesting their funds as they told their clients they would do, Fry and Demmitt deposited the funds into their personal accounts. In fact, evidence presented showed that they tricked their investors with the promise of the matching investment money so that the clients would liquidate their legitimate investment accounts. Approximately $600,000 in client funds was transferred into Fry’s and Demmitt’s personal accounts.”
Both were ordered to pay, jointly and severally, nearly $600,000 in restitution.