Former Financial Advisor, Jabari Ragas, Guilty Of Embezzling $1.4 Million From Clients
JABARI RAGAS, age 40, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, pled guilty to money laundering and filing a false tax return in federal court today before United States District Court Judge Lance M. Africk, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr.
According to court documents, RAGAS was employed by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (“Ameriprise”) as a registered broker and investment adviser from 2005 - 2009. RAGAS admitted in court to embezzling nearly $1,400,000 from clients, and failing to pay nearly $260,000 in tax due and owing to the Internal Revenue Service. RAGAS has agreed to pay full restitution.
In early 2006, a client of RAGAS indicated to him that he wished to open a Simplified Employee Pension (“SEP”) account to allow him to contribute towards retirement. The client made contributions from 2006 – 2009. Without authorization, RAGAS began moving money from the Ameriprise SEP account, into an account controlled by RAGAS. The client later checked the account balance and inquired as to why the account balance was lower than it should have been and was told by RAGAS that the funds had been transferred to a different financial institution located in Texas. RAGAS was asked by the client to supply him with written account statements showing the balance, account number, and institution name. RAGAS then supplied the client with a fraudulent account statement for an account that did not exist, along with a fraudulent balance. After using the interstate wire to embezzle funds from the client’s Ameriprise account, RAGAS committed money laundering by further transferring $20,000 into a different account that he controlled.
Additionally, on October 12, 2008, RAGAS signed and filed a 2007 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (Form 1040) with the Internal Revenue Service. The tax return allegedly did not report approximately $288,000 in income.
RAGAS faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, on the money laundering count, and a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 years, on the tax count. RAGAS also faces a fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to any person as to the money laundering count. As to the tax count, RAGAS faces a fine of $100,000 together with the costs of prosecution. RAGAS faces a 3 year term of supervised release as to the money laundering count and a 1 year term of supervised release on the tax count, following any term of imprisonment.
The case was investigated by the Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Secret Service, and the prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Jon Maestri.