Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Insurance broker pleads guilty to 15 counts of fraud

WINNIPEG - A former Great-West-Life insurance broker has pleaded guilty to defrauding 15 former clients out of several hundred thousand dollars.

Gary Palmer, 64, brought his Queen’s Bench trial to a sudden halt this week by deciding to accept responsibility to many of the charges he was fighting. Palmer, who was acting as his own lawyer, admitted to 15 counts of fraud. The Crown agreed to drop nine other related charges.

He remains free on bail and is expected to be sentenced this fall.
Palmer had tried to delay the start of his month-long trial in early May, claiming he wasn’t properly prepared for it. Queen’s Bench Justice Perry Schulman refused to grant an adjournment, saying Palmer has had plenty of time and was only trying to drag out the proceedings.
Palmer was arrested in October 2006 following a lengthy investigation. The Crown says Palmer persuaded numerous clients to make withdrawals from their investments on the premise he would transfer the money into higher-performing funds. He then allegedly took nearly $1.5 million for his own personal use, including vacations, car payments and family expenses.
Palmer was working as an independent agent with the company over the eight years he was accused of swindling the victims, who ranged from wealthy professionals to single parents. The Crown had planned to call many of the former clients as witnesses during the trial, although one man has since died, court was told.

Ex-broker admits to fraud
A former insurance broker on trial accused of swindling clients out of $1.5 million has pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud.
Gary Palmer, 64, entered guilty pleas Tuesday morning, more than one week into his scheduled five-week trial.
Palmer, who defended himself in court, remains free on bail pending the completion of a court ordered pre-sentence report. A sentencing date will be set in August.
Palmer began his trial charged with 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,” Crown attorney Steve Johnston told court at the start of Palmer’s trial.
Last month, Palmer filed a last-minute motion seeking to postpone his trial, arguing he did not have a lawyer and was in no position to defend himself.
Justice Perry Schulman rejected the motion, ruling Palmer made “very limited efforts” to hire a lawyer or raise funds to hire a lawyer.

Insurance broker pleads guilty to fraud
A former Winnipeg insurance broker has pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud after allegedly spending nearly $1.5 million worth of clients' money.
Gary Palmer, 64, cut short his scheduled five-week trial by making the plea on Tuesday — just a few days into it.
In exchange for his plea to 15 charges, the Crown dropped nine other charges against Palmer, who was representing himself in court.
'He should spend that kind of time behind bars then we'll call it even.'—Greg Downey, who lost more than $30,000
Palmer was independently contracted with Great-West Life Assurance Company when the fraud occurred between 1998 and 2006.
Police alleged that Palmer, presenting himself as a financial advisor, convinced a number of people to make withdrawals from their current investment accounts on the premise of transferring the funds to new products.
He then allegedly deposited the money into his business account and used it for his own personal use.
The scheme came to light when a client received a tax bill for the withdrawals.
Great-West Life conducted an internal investigation then notified the police. Charges were laid in 2006.
Greg Downey, who lost more than $30,000 to Palmer, doesn't ever expect to recover the money he's lost. But he said some of the sting would be alleviated if Downey is sentenced to spend a few years in prison.
"He had at least 10 very good years of going to a cruise every year, going out to his half-a-million-dollar cottage in Lake of the Woods, stuff like I'm never going to be able to afford to do," said Downey.
"So he should spend that kind of time behind bars then we'll call it even."
The maximum penalty Palmer faces is 14 years behind bars. He'll be sentenced in August.

I do not believe this man should be sentenced to prison. That would serve no purpose as prison should always be a last resort and only reserved for those who truly pose a danger to society. This man should be sentenced to a conditional sentence with community service work, restitution to the victims and be required to prepare a series of speeches for insurance companies about the consequences of fraud. He should also lose his job as an insurance broker. This man's assets should be sold and the money should be given to his victims.  

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