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 $30,000Palmer 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.