Disbarred Attorney Sentenced to 64 Months in Federal Prison for Defrauding Elderly Woman's Estate
Anchorage, Alaska - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a former California lawyer, now disbarred, was sentenced in federal court in Anchorage yesterday for fraud.
Philip Eric Myers, 61, of Santa Barbara, California, was sentenced to 64 months in prison by Chief United States District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline for stealing over one million dollars from an elderly woman’s estate. Meyers pled guilty on September 20, 2013, to one count of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Retta Randall, who prosecuted the case, Myers, an estate and trust attorney from California, along with co-defendant Brian Ben-Israel, a registered nurse residing in Anchorage and working at Meridian Psychiatric Consulting Group, met and befriended Mrs. Juanita Gielarowski. During the period of 2005 through 2008, Ben-Israel became a health care provider and “financial advisor” to Mrs. Gielarowksi and her daughter, Linda Stowers. Myers enabled Ben-Israel to gain control over assets of the Juanita V. Gielarowski Revocable Trust by creating a new trust where Ben-Israel was appointed a co-trustee. Ben-Israel and Myers, using their professional relationship with and influence over Mrs. Gielarowski, then diverted for their own personal benefit over two million dollars from the Gielarowski Trust, monies intended for her long-term care. Ultimately Myers and Ben-Israel depleted the Gielarowski Estate and properties owned by the Estate were lost due to foreclosure, causing Mrs. Gielarowski to be moved from her long established home to a state funded elder care facility where she died in July 2010.
At the time of sentencing in the federal case, Myers had been convicted in three separate cases of Theft from Elder or Dependent Adult in the State of California. In each of those cases he had embezzled money from Trusts he had established for his elderly clients. Myers was disbarred from the practice of law by the State of California on February 11, 2013.
In sentencing the defendant, Judge Beistline noted that Myers had a history of exploiting others and that his exploitation of the attorney/client relationship with a vulnerable victim, especially when a fiduciary duty was involved, was extremely serious. The goal of society is “to protect our elderly and our vulnerable,” and Myers has seriously “impacted” society’s view of the legal profession.
Myers was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,081,000.
Deirdre L. Fike, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Alaska, said, “The sentencing of Philip Eric Myers is the culmination of a cooperative effort involving the FBI, the IRS, Anchorage Police, the State of Alaska’s Elder Fraud Unit, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. This investigation demonstrates the FBI’s ongoing commitment to protecting Americans, particularly the elderly, from the type of fraud committed by Myers and his co-defendant Brian Amiel Ben Israel.”
Ms. Loeffler commends the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and the Anchorage Police Department for the investigation of this case. Ms. Loeffler also commends the State of Alaska Office of Elder Fraud & Assistance who provided assistance in this investigation.