Registered Nurse sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for stealing millions from Elderly Patient's Estate
Anchorage, Alaska - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a former Anchorage registered nurse was sentenced in federal court in Anchorage yesterday for fraud and filing a false tax return.
Brian Amiel Ben-Israel, 54, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to 66 months in prison by Chief United States District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline for stealing over two million dollars from an elderly woman’s estate. Ben-Israel pled guilty on September 16, 2013, to one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud and filing a false tax return. A separate hearing will be held on February 18, 2014 to determine how much he must pay in restitution.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Retta Rae Randall, who prosecuted the case, Ben-Israel was a registered nurse residing in Anchorage and working at Meridian Psychiatric Consulting Group when he met and befriended Ms. Juanita Gielarowski. During the period of 2005 through 2008, Ben-Israel became a health care provider and “financial advisor” to Gielarowksi and her daughter, Linda Stowers. Ben-Israel gained control over assets of the Juanita V. Gielarowski Revocable Trust by creating a new trust with the assistance of co-defendant, Philip Eric Myers, a former attorney. Once Ben-Israel and Myers gained control of the Trust, they diverted over two million dollars from Gielarowski’s Trust, intended to be used for her care and benefit, to their own personal benefit.
Ben-Israel and co-defendant Myers persuaded Gielarowski and Stowers, in December 2007, to invest more than one million dollars in Myers’ company, Typhoon Security Technology, Inc. Myers, the CEO of Typhoon, claimed the company would be one of the top three global leaders in explosives and weapons detection technology. Myers was the CEO of Typhoon. Ben-Israel had a contract with Typhoon to sell private placement investments on commission. However, Typhoon was suspended by the State of California in September 2007 and could no longer lawfully conduct business. The Estate lost all of its investment money.
Ben-Israel charmed and manipulated Gielarowski and Stowers; he allowed Stowers to pretend that they were husband and wife. As Stowers’ nurse, he encouraged her to take care of her health, getting gastric bypass surgery and plastic surgery. Ben-Israel enjoyed the plane trips such treatments required and he indulged in plastic surgery himself, paid for by the Gielarowski Estate. As a “financial advisor” he questioned how the Gielarowski Estate and assets were being invested, preying on Stowers and her mother’s financial concerns for her long-term care.
Ultimately Ben-Israel became a trustee of the Estate and gained access to the bank accounts of the Estate, transferring much of the funds to his personal bank account, using the money to pay for extensive travel and purchasing real estate, including a five-acre property located at 133 Kaiwiki, Hilo, Hawaii, for $750,000. Ben-Israel made a down payment of $476,500 with money from the Gielarowski Estate as well as the proceeds from the sale of his Hawaii condo. The home was titled only in Ben-Israel’s name.
Ben-Israel extensively remodeled this home with Gielarowski Estate funds, claiming the estate would be the retirement villa for Gielarowski and Stowers. Stowers did stay at the house while recovering from her surgeries; Gielarowski was morbidly obese and bedridden, unable to travel. A lift was used to remove her from her bed and into a wheelchair. In July 2009, this “4 acre tropical jungle paradise” was advertised as “The Garden of Eden … for the clothing challenged or clothing optional minded Gay Male community.” Ben-Israel is gay.
Ben-Israel gave substantial amounts of money from the Estate to partners and friends, claiming the money was an inheritance from a wealthy grandfather.
The tax charge is based upon income payments made to Ben-Israel by the Estate for nursing care that he did not report to his employer, Meridian, or to the IRS. He also failed to report the Typhoon commissions he received and the theft income he obtained.
The actions of Ben-Israel and Myers completely depleted the Juanita Gielarowski estate by August 2009, and caused Gielarowski to be moved from her long established home to a state funded elder care facility where she died in July 2010.
In sentencing the defendant, Judge Beistline stated that Ms. Gielarowski “was the ultimate in vulnerable victims.” “A fiduciary duty is a serious duty. If we cannot protect our elderly and our vulnerable, what kind of society are we? We need to protect the vulnerable.” When determining the length of the sentence, Judge Beistline asserted that the punishment had “to sting” and send a message to those whose jobs are to protect the elderly.
Tamera Cant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for IRS Criminal Investigation in the Pacific Northwest, said, “The IRS enforces the nation’s tax laws, but we also take particular interest in cases where someone has taken what belongs to others. We are dedicated to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate scams that exploit the innocent.”
Deirdre L. Fike, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Alaska, said, “The crimes committed by Brian Amiel Ben-Israel are particularly reprehensible because he used his position as a nurse to steal funds intended to provide for the care of an elderly woman. This investigation is an example of the FBI’s ongoing commitment to protect Alaskans, especially the elderly, from fraud.”
Co-defendant Myers pled guilty on September 20, 2013, and has agreed to forfeiture and restitution in the amount of $1,081,000. Myers’ sentencing is scheduled for January 17, 2014, before Chief Judge Beistline.
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.