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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Former Financial Advisor, Jabari Ragas, Sentenced To 42 Months For Money Laundering And Tax Fraud

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that JABARI RAGAS, age 40, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, was sentenced today for one count of money laundering and one count of tax fraud. RAGAS previously pled guilty to embezzling nearly $1,700,000 from clients, and failing to pay nearly $260,000 in tax due and owing to the Internal Revenue Service.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon sentenced RAGAS to serve 42 months of incarceration, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.    RAGAS was also ordered to pay nearly $1,700,000 in restitution for the money laundering count, and $259,210 for the tax fraud count.

According to court documents, RAGAS was employed by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (“Ameriprise”) as a registered broker and investment adviser from 2005 - 2009. RAGAS previously pled guilty 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.

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 later 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 then 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.

U.S. Attorney Polite stated, “Ragas defrauded the government out of tax revenue and his clients out of nearly $1.7 million in investments.  Today’s sentence ensures that he pays for his fraudulent conduct by serving a lengthy prison sentence and paying full restitution to make his victims whole.”

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Secret Service in investigating this matter.  Assistant United States Attorney Jon Maestri is in charge of the prosecution.

Updated November 18, 2014