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Viatical Fraud Indictment Returned

2/13/2004

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842
Len Register, Managing Assistant U.S. Attorney
(850) 554-5995

PENSACOLA-Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Gregory R. Miller, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the unsealing of a federal indictment against eight individuals in connection with their activities with LifeTime Capital, Inc., a viatical company that once operated out of Dayton, Ohio, and South Florida, and other related companies. Indicted were David W. Svete, Douglas A. Kordel, Roger W. Lange, Kathleen Lafrance, Ron Girardot, Ian Walcott, Anderson Marshall, and Charme Austin.

The indictment, which was returned by the federal grand jury in Pensacola on January 21, 2004, alleges a large-scale money laundering conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. §371 and §1956, as well as 23 other substantive violations of mail fraud and interstate transportation of money obtained by fraud. The indictment was the result of a long-term investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Department of Financial Services' Division of Insurance Fraud, and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation's Division of Investigations.

"Viatical fraud poses a serious financial risk for both consumers and investors, many of whom are senior citizens who invest their life savings in these policies," said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.

Viatical settlement contracts are written agreements between a viatical settlement provider and the insured or owner of a life insurance contract. The insured or beneficiary under the contract is known as the "viator." The viatical service provider, in effect, purchases the right to obtain the proceeds of a life insurance contract from the insured or owner prior to the death of the insured. When the insured dies, the proceeds from the insurance contract then go to the holder of the viatical contract, who then distributes the funds to the investors according to the terms of the agreement.

As set out in the indictment, the object of the conspiracies charged in the Northern District of Florida was to fraudulently obtain money from investors by representing that the viatical contracts were on terminally ill patients and that the investors could not lose. The indictment further alleges that the charged individuals arranged to launder the fraudulently obtained funds by removing the funds to overseas locations to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of these funds.

A trial is scheduled for March 22, 2004. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until their guilt is established by the government beyond every reasonable doubt.

The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the department's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.