News

Baltimore Financial Advisor Sentenced in Scheme to Defraud Vulnerable Clients of $838,350


Stole from a Trust Held for A Child Suffering from Cerebral Palsy, from the Child’s Mother and from an Elderly Woman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Ralph Edward Thomas, Jr., age 53, of Reisterstown, Maryland, today to four years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for mail fraud in connection with defrauding his clients. Judge Blake also ordered Thomas to pay $838,350.34 in restitution, the amount of loss suffered by his clients, and to forfeit property in order to pay such amount, including funds held in investment accounts owned by Thomas, his home in Reisterstown and luxury automobiles.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department.

According to Thomas’ plea agreement, a trust account was established in 1994 to benefit a child suffering from cerebral palsy. The child’s mother was appointed as the trustee. The trust account was funded by the proceeds of a $3 million medical malpractice settlement, which were used to buy an annuity. The annuity was supposed to pay the child a minimum of $3,990 a month.

Thomas was a vice president of Harbor Financial Services, a subsidiary of Harbor Bank. After meeting the child’s mother at Harbor Bank in December 2001, Thomas established complete control over the child’s trust account, which was moved to the Harbor Bank. From December 17, 2001 through June 30, 2010, the annuity payments were deposited directly into the trust account. Although the annuity payments averaged $6,287.53 per month, Thomas disbursed only $1,000 to $1,500 a month from the trust account to the mother for the care of the child. He withdrew the remaining monthly balance by obtaining the mother’s signature on blank withdrawal slips, and deposited the funds into his personal bank accounts. Thomas withdrew a total of $756,963.98 from the trust account which he used for his personal benefit. Thomas purchased a home in Reisterstown, Maryland on July 30, 2009 using $100,000 of the stolen funds.

Furthermore, from June 2006 to May 2009, Thomas obtained three mortgages totaling $205,000 on the mother’s home in her name without her permission. As a result, the mother incurred $26,886.36 in closing costs and losses. Thomas also stole $12,500 from the mother’s personal account held at Harbor Bank.

Finally, from February 2004 through July 2010, Thomas was employed as a financial advisor by Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. Thomas admits that $75,000 was fraudulently withdrawn from an account held by an elderly Wells Fargo customer. Of the $75,000 withdrawn, $42,000 was used to pay Thomas’ personal credit card accounts or other personal benefits.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Gregory R. Bockin, who prosecuted the case.


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