Leesburg Accountant and Attorney Plead Guilty to Life Insurance Fraud Scheme
ALEXANDRIA, Va. –James C. Cilenti, 47, and Christopher Agresto, 36, both of Leesburg, Va., have pleaded guilty to carrying out a fraud scheme to fraudulently obtain life insurance proceeds. Cilenti, an accountant, also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft in connection with a separate Social Security fraud scheme.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the pleas were accepted by United States District Judge Liam O’Grady.
Cilenti and Agresto both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Cilenti also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit wire fraud is 20 years in prison. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two year sentence, which must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed.
According to court documents, Cilenti and Agresto conspired to defraud USAA Life Insurance Company in San Antonio, Texas, out of the proceeds of a $500,000 life insurance policy on the life of Cilenti’s late wife. Although Cilenti was the primary beneficiary under the policy, because the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office had identified Cilenti as a person of interest in his wife’s death, USAA declined to pay the proceeds to him. His then adopted daughter was the contingent beneficiary of the policy.
According to plea papers, Cilenti retained Agresto, a Leesburg attorney, to create a trust for the benefit of Cilenti’s adopted daughter for which Agresto acted as trustee. Cilenti and Agresto falsely represented to USAA that Cilenti would neither have control of, access to, nor benefit from the trust assets. As a result, USAA paid the $500,000 insurance proceeds to the adopted daughter’s trust. Within a week of USAA wiring $507,000 to the trust account, Agresto wrote checks for $300,000 and $100,000 to Cilenti, who deposited them in his business account. Over the next five weeks, Agresto wrote additional checks to Cilenti and made wire transfers from the trust account totaling $40,000, all of which went into Cilenti’s business account. Cilenti spent almost all the funds from the trust account, very little if any of which benefited his adopted daughter.
In addition, Cilenti applied for Social Security Administration survivor benefits on behalf of his adopted daughter, using her signature and Social Security Number without her knowledge or permission. Cilenti then converted to his own use and benefit approximately $7,600 in survivor payments made to him on his adopted daughter’s behalf.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Uzo Asonye and Michael Rich prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.