Ocean City Pharmacist and Realtor Indicted in Eight Year Fraud Scheme Using Dead Relatives’ Identities

February 24, 2009

Baltimore, Maryland - Ocean City, Maryland residents Joel Swartz, age 65, a pharmacist, and his wife Esther Swartz, age 62, a real estate agent, were arrested today for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft arising from an eight year scheme using the credit accounts of dead relatives, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. The indictment was returned on January 27, 2009 and unsealed today upon their arrest.

According to the nine count indictment, from July 2000 to December 2008, the defendants used credit accounts of two dead relatives to obtain unauthorized extensions of credit from banks and other financial institutions. The defendants did not inform the banks and other financial institutions that the account holders had died. The defendants accessed the victims’ credit accounts by cashing convenience checks and using credit cards to purchase goods and services for their own use, including air travel, vacations, spa treatments and renovations and furnishings for their two Ocean City residences.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of property, including the defendants’ two Ocean City residences.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the conspiracy and bank fraud; 15 years in prison for access device fraud; and a mandatory two years in prison consecutive to any other prison term for aggravated identity theft. The defendants are expected to have their initial appearance in federal district court this afternoon.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Ocean City Police Department for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Tamera L. Fine, who is prosecuting the case.



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