Greenbelt, Maryland –Travis Wetzel, age 35, of Frederick, Maryland pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a fraudulent scheme to transfer $1,282,224 from an elderly client’s annuity account.
The plea agreement was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Wetzel processed financial distribution documents for an investment advisory firm located in Rockville, Maryland. In 2009, Wetzel was promoted to branch operations manager. According to his plea agreement, from July 2010 to September 2012, Wetzel took a total of approximately $1,282,224 from an annuity account of a client without the client’s knowledge, and used the money for his personal benefit. Wetzel knew that the client was elderly, whose age and physical condition would facilitate repeatedly taking money from the client’s account.
Wetzel also laundered some of the money he took by transferring the money to other bank accounts he controlled.
Wetzel has agreed to forfeit $1,282,224.
Wetzel faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud; and 10 years in prison for money laundering. U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow scheduled sentencing for February 23, 2015, at 11:30 a.m.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorneys David Salem and Leah J. Bressack, who are prosecuting the case.