Businessman Pleads Guilty to More Than $4.6 Million Wire Fraud Scheme
DALLAS — Wesley Michael Woodyard, 65, most recently of Dallas, appeared in federal court this afternoon and pleaded guilty, before U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater, to one count of wire fraud stemming from his scheme to defraud Ace European Insurance Company (ACE) of more than $4.6 million from approximately 2002 through 2013. U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas made today’s announcement.
Woodyard, who has been in custody since his arrest in June 2016, faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. He could also be ordered to pay restitution. Sentencing is set for March 24, 2017.
According to documents filed in the case, from 1993 through 2015, Woodyard was the sole owner and operator of Ringler Associates of North Texas, Incorporated (RANT). From approximately 2002 through 2013, Woodyard devised and engaged in a fraud scheme in which he engaged in a pattern of deceitful conduct and false representations to fraudulently induce representatives of Ace European Insurance Company (ACE), a large insurance company located in London, England, to send approximately $4,674,258 to bank accounts that Woodyard controlled. ACE initially sent these funds to companies acting as a third party administrator; they then transferred the ACE funds to Woodyard.
Woodyard concealed his theft of ACE funds from the Ringler Insurance Agency (RIA). The fraud scheme allowed Woodyard to fraudulently retain commission funds earned by RIA. Woodyard repeatedly stole ACE funds, totaling approximately $4,674,258, that were wired from London. ACE intended Woodyard to honestly use these funds to purchase annuities for the benefit of many insurance claimants. However, as charged in the indictment, as part of the scheme to defraud ACE, Woodyard caused ACE to make 11 wire transfers to banks in the United States; these funds were later wired to bank accounts in Texas.
Woodyard falsely represented to ACE, as well as to third party administrators Roger Rich and Company and Vanbreda International, that he intended to lawfully use all funds received from ACE to purchase several life insurance annuity contracts from Metropolitan Life, Incorporated or some other legitimate insurance company. Woodyard caused ACE funds to be sent from Roger Rich and Company and Vanbreda directly to RANT, rather than to the annuity provider, thus denying RIA its earned commission for the transaction.
Woodyard fraudulently concealed from ACE and others that he unlawfully used the majority of ACE funds of his own personal financial benefit. He admitted he concealed the theft because he knew that ACE would never agree to send him approximately $4,674,258 in ACE funds if ACE knew he intended to steal the funds.
Out of the $4,674,258 in funds Woodyard fraudulently obtained, Woodyard paid out approximately $857,626 to beneficiaries, resulting in a net financial gain to Woodyard of $3,816,632.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis.
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