A Ventura insurance agent pleaded no contest to charges of financial elder abuse, embezzlement and grand theft in Santa Barbara. Joseph Anthony Mele was licensed to work as an insurance agent in his father’s agency, but he was not certified to work in any other capacity.
Embezzlement victims were targeted
Mele began working with two elderly women beginning in 2003, representing himself as a financial planner. Mele stole more than $1.2 million from one victim by selling her long-term annuities, then repeatedly rewriting them to earn nearly $300,000 in commissions. His selling activities cost the victim an additional $500,000 in early termination penalties. He also convinced one of the victims to provide him with multiple signed blank checks, which he said would help him quickly make trades on her behalf. Instead, he wrote checks to himself for more than $800,000. Mele allegedly spent the money on lavish vacations, plastic surgery, entertainment and gambling. A second victim lost more than $80,000 in penalties and earnings after Mele convinced her to sell her annuities early.
According to the California Department of Insurance, they’ve recovered about half of the money Mele stole. Without that recovery, one of the victims would have lost her home.
If you’ve been arrested for fraud, embezzlement, grand theft or other white collar crimes, you could be a facing long prison term in addition to restitution. Following release, it may be impossible to find gainful employment and suitable housing. In an embezzlement case, you need the assistance of an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney like Ventura criminal defense attorney Robert Helfend.
Mr. Helfend has provided expert felony defense in Southern California for more than 30 years, and takes criminal defense cases exclusively. He will work aggressively to get the charges against you dropped or reduced.
Licensed financial professionals have special responsibilities to their clients, and the law treats them harshly when improprieties are discovered. While no attorney can guarantee the outcome of any court matter, Mr. Helfend can assemble the experts you’ll need to mount an effective, diligent defense.
Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County embezzlement case.
Photo Credit: Wesley S. , via FreeImages.com