Citrus County Man Pleads Guilty To Receiving Stolen Benefit Payments From The Department Of Veterans Affairs
Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Eric Leon Ager (77, Clearwater) today pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. Ager has agreed to pay over $10.3 million in restitution to his victims. His sentencing hearing has been set for March 13, 2017.
According to court documents, Ager and his conspirators defrauded over 200 victims out of more than $10.3 million through investments offered in connection with a company called Tri-Med Corporation. Ager and his brother, Irwin Charles Ager (84, Lake Mary), were marketing directors for Tri-Med Associates, the “marketing arm” of Tri-Med. Both were responsible for soliciting investors, as well as recruiting and managing many of the sales people who sold investments in Tri-Med.
The investment fraud scheme involved the alleged purchase of medical receivables by Tri-Med related to services provided to accident victims represented by personal injury attorneys. Payment of those medical receivables was supposed to be made from the proceeds of litigation or an insurance claim made against a general liability or automobile insurance policy. Each of the medical receivables was supposed to be secured by a “letter of protection,” provided by a patient’s personal injury attorney to a medical services professional as an incentive to provide services to a patient. A letter of protection is a contract involving a patient, the patient's attorney, and the medical services provider from the proceeds of any pre-suit settlement, lawsuit settlement, or judgment that the patient may obtain.
To fund Tri-Med’s alleged purchases of medical receivables, the Ager brothers and other conspirators solicited individuals to participate in an “investment program” where investors’ money would be used by Tri-Med to buy medical receivables “backed” by letters of protection. As part of their solicitations, the conspirators represented to investors that their investments were safe and that investor funds would be held in a trust account that was controlled by an attorney. To assure investors that their investments were secure, Tri-Med claimed that it would transfer its interest in the protection letter to the investor in a document called an “Assignment of Interest Certificate.”
Those representations were false. Of the more than $17 million raised from over 200 investors, only approximately $2.7 million was ever transferred from Tri-Med to the attorney’s trust account. The majority of the funds raised from investors never made it to that account. Over $6.5 million was paid to the sales people and the operators of Tri-Med or was used by them to benefit themselves or pay business expenses. Approximately $2.3 million was paid as distributions to investors to make them believe that their investments were profitable. In fact, Tri-Med did not purchase enough medical receivables to secure the incoming investments, so it fabricated “Assignment of Interest Certificates.”
On December 2, 2016, Irwin Charles Ager pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and has agreed to pay over $10.3 million in restitution to his victims. His sentencing hearing has been set for February 17, 2017.
Commissioner Drew J. Breakspear said, “The Florida Office of Financial Regulation thanks the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the United States Secret Service for their diligent effort to bring this individual to justice. We will continue to work with our partners to protect Floridians and combat financial crime.”
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Shawn P. Napier and Roger B. Handberg.