Thursday, May 27, 2010
Former insurance broker accused of $1.5 million fraud, will go to trial
Ready or not, a former insurance broker accused of swindling clients out of $1.5 million is going to stand trial next week, a judge has ordered.
Gary Palmer, 64, filed a last-minute motion last week seeking to postpone his five-week fraud trial, arguing he did not have a lawyer and was in no position to defend himself.
Palmer was arrested in October 2006 following a lengthy police investigation.
Palmer made “very limited efforts” to hire a lawyer or raise funds to hire a lawyer, Justice Perry Schulman said Wednesday.
“It’s hard to believe ... that he has any serious interest in raising funds to secure counsel,” Schulman said.
Adjourning the trial would likely delay it for at least a year and inconvenience 30 witnesses, Schulman said, noting one witness has died since Palmer was arrested.
Palmer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 23 counts of fraud and one count of money laundering.
Palmer was working as an independent insurance agent under contract with Great-West Life during the eight-year period he is alleged to have committed the crimes.
Prosecutors allege Palmer was acting as a financial adviser to the victims when he convinced them to withdraw their money from Great-West Life and invest it through his company, J.D. Raleigh.
Palmer then allegedly kept the money for his use, spending it on vacation getaways, payments for his mother’s personal care home, car lease payments and “numerous other personal items,” said Crown attorney Steve Johnston.
“Never once was the money actually invested on his client’s behalf,” Johnston told court Wednesday.
The trial will resume Monday with testimony from a Great-West Life investigator.