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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Former AXA Agent Charged With Securities Fraud

     The United States Attorney’s Office today announced the filing of a one-count information charging Dennis Wright with securities fraud.  Wright, a former agent of the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (“AXA”), operated Wright Associates in Lewistown, Pennsylvania.

     According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, the information alleges that from the early 1990’s through June 2012 Wright fraudulently induced AXA clients to liquidate securities and other assets based on false representations and promises that he would invest their monies and funds in what he purported to be “managed funds,” when, in fact, he never invested the funds, but instead deposited the client funds into his business operating account.  The information alleges that as a result of these false and fraudulent representations and promises, Wright received funds, totaling approximately $1,533,416, from at least 30 AXA clients via account transfers, withdrawals, and other means.

     Wright, a Lewistown resident, has agreed to plead guilty under the terms of a plea agreement filed with the information.  If convicted of the securities fraud charge Wright, age 68, faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, a fine of $1 million, and a supervised release term of five years.

     Wright also is the subject of a parallel civil case filed today by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States District for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

     The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Prosecution of this matter has been assigned to Assistant United States Attorney George J. Rocktashel.

     Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

     A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

     Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.                  

Updated April 9, 2015