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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 29, 2015

Financial Customer Service Specialist to Plead Guilty to Bilking Sisters’ Estate of $1.2 Million Dollars

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A former financial customer service specialist for Columbia Management Investment Services (CMIS), a subsidiary of Ameriprise Financial, is expected to plead guilty in federal court in Providence to defrauding the estate of two deceased sisters from Galway, Ireland of more than $1.2 million dollars, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Ted A. Arruda, Resident Agent in Charge of the Providence Office of the United States Secret Service.

Ronald Hunt, 44, of Collinsville, Ill., formerly of Bristol, R.I., has been charged by way of an information with one count of wire fraud. A plea agreement in this matter was filed today in U.S. District Court in Providence.

According to court documents, it is alleged that in March 2013, Hunt, while working at a CMIS call center in Providence, used his position to research deceased clients who had unredeemed Ameriprise Financial accounts and no listed beneficiaries. During his research, it is alleged that Hunt identified two such accounts belonging to deceased sisters in Galway, Ireland.

Court documents allege that in May 2013, Hunt established a fictitious business bank account at a Rhode Island bank branch office under the name “Celtic Savings,” located in Bristol, R.I. It is further alleged that two days later, Hunt applied for a mutual fund account, also under the name “Celtic Savings.” 

It is alleged that on May 19, 2013, Hunt submitted redemption paperwork for the two sisters’ CMIS accounts, using the alias “Sean Kane” as the fictitious executor for both accounts.  It is alleged that on May 20, 2013, using the fictitious “Sean Kane” alias, Hunt transferred $769,242.24 from one sister’s account and $459,531.91 from the second sister’s account into a CMIS account he created.  Two days later he transferred the entire amount, $1,228,774.15, to the fictitious business account he created in Rhode Island.

On May 23, 2013 and again on August 29, 2013, Hunt withdrew a total of $750,000.00 from his “Celtic Savings” business account.

An information is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Wire fraud is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

The case against Ronald Hunt is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly.

The matter was investigated by the United States Secret Service, with the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Enforcement.

Criminal Information and Plea Agreement (4.97 MB)

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
15-59
Updated June 29, 2015