Former Bristol Attorney Sentenced to 46 Months in Prison for Stealing $169K from Conserved Persons
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JODI ZILS GAGNE, 43, of Bristol, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to 46 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for stealing 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 elderly victim of approximately $136,000, 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 repeatedly lied, sometimes under oath, to the probate court.
The investigation also revealed that Zils Gagne arranged the sale of two victims’ houses to her relative for less than the appraised value of the homes. The buyer than renovated the homes, sold them for a substantial profit, and paid Zils Gagne and her husband kickbacks.
On October 10, 2018, Zils Gagne pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud.
Judge Bryant ordered Zils Gagne, who is released on a $50,000 bond, to report to prison on July 8.
In September 2018, a Connecticut Superior Court judge suspended Zils Gagne from the practice of law.
This matter was 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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David T. Huang.