Former Bristol Attorney Admits Theft of $169,000 from Conserved Persons
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JODI ZILS GAGNE, 43, of Bristol, waived her right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to one count of mail fraud related to her theft of more than $169,000 from individuals for whom she served as a court-appointed conservator.
According to court documents and statements made in court, ZILS GAGNE, an attorney, was a court-appointed conservator for several individuals in Connecticut. A conservator is a person appointed by the probate court to oversee the financial or personal affairs of an adult who is incapable of managing his or her finances or unable to care for himself or herself. Beginning in approximately May 2015, ZILS GAGNE defrauded several conserved individuals by misappropriating their money and overbilling them. The money that ZILS GAGNE misappropriated was intended for the conserved persons’ medical care, housing, bills, personal expenses, and legitimate conservator fees. ZILS GAGNE also misrepresented, or failed to disclose, material facts about her conservatorship activities to the Bristol probate court and others.
Through this scheme, ZILS GAGNE defrauded six victims of a total of $169,402.74. She defrauded one victim of approximately $130,000, and appropriated $113,000 of that money under the guise of an “investment” when, in fact, it was a 10-year note that paid only a prime rate and was signed between her (as the victim’s conservator) and ZILS GAGNE’s husband. The money was used to fund her husband’s start-up company, a Bristol-based internet radio station. The terms and details of this transaction were only disclosed after extended proceedings in the probate court, during which ZILS GAGNE made false statements, sometimes under oath, to the probate court.
ZILS GAGNE is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on January 23, 2019, at which time she faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
ZILS GAGNE is released on a $50,000 bond pending sentencing.
In September 2018, a Connecticut Superior Court judge suspended ZILS GAGNE from the practice of law.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Greenwich Police Department, with the assistance of the Connecticut Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel and the New Britain State’s Attorney’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David T. Huang.