Former New Jersey Investment Adviser Pleads Guilty in $1.17 Million Fraud Scheme
December 16, 2015 by Thomas Harman, Washington Bureau manager, BestWeek: Tom.Harman@ambest.com
TRENTON, N.J. – A former Morris County, New Jersey, investment adviser has pleaded guilty to organizing a $1.17 million securities and annuities fraud scheme, according to the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Investigator.
Maine resident Janet Fooshee, 63, entered a guilty plea to fabricating and mailing more than 100 financial account statements that inflated the accounts of 14 clients by a total of $818,000. Fooshee also pleaded guilty to stealing $151,000 from four clients, receiving $191,539 in unlawful investment adviser fees, defrauding a client of nearly $81,000 and stealing the identities of eight corporations. Fooshee also confessed to defrauding more than two dozen retirees and others while operating under aliases Janet Gurley and Janet Katz from 2003-2012. She will pay $415,000 in restitution, according to the fraud investigator’s office.
Fooshee entered the pleas in Somerset County Superior Court. Prosecutors will recommend a seven-year prison sentence for Fooshee, with sentencing scheduled for January 2016.
Fooshee pleaded guilty to 31 of 37 charges contained in two indictments that were brought against her in 2012 and 2013.
Fooshee worked as an investment adviser at Wachovia Securities Inc. before forming her own firm, Janet Gurley Katz LLC, in 2003. When entering her guilty plea before Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman, Fooshee said she abused her role as a trusted fiduciary to several clients and to a retirement community for which she served as a bookkeeper on a pro bono basis.
She admitted to stealing $151,000 from some clients’ brokerage accounts and the retirement community bank account and then depositing the money into other clients’ brokerage accounts in order to conceal financial losses that occurred while managing various client accounts. She admitted to concealing the fraud by fabricating more than 100 account statements on the letterheads of financial institutions — Fidelity Investments, Dreyfus, Alliance Bernstein, Wells Fargo, Transamerica Life Insurance Co., ING, AIG Life Insurance Co., Bank of America/Merrill Lynch or JMB Realty Corp. — and then mailed the fraudulent statements to 14 clients. Fooshee gained $17,000 in improper fees.
In March 2009, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities issued orders revoking Fooshee’s status as a registered investment adviser. But she admitted that in response, she conspired with her husband Richard to continue to act as an investment adviser to several of her pre-existing New Jersey clients through early 2013, gaining them $191,539 in unlawful adviser fees.
Richard Fooshee, admitted he and his wife conspired to help her continue to act as an investment adviser by depositing advisory fee checks from her clients into his personal bank accounts and transferring the money to Janet Fooshee or to a joint account owned by both of them. These clients were unaware Janet Fooshee’s registration had been revoked. Richard Fooshee admitted he acted in an investment advisory capacity with respect to Janet Fooshee’s New Jersey clients, and he did so without registering as an investment adviser and without qualifying for an exemption from the registration requirement. Prosecutors seek a non-custodial sentence for Richard Fooshee.
“These guilty pleas put to bed a lengthy investigation aided by numerous tips from the public who saw the first indictment against Fooshee and contacted our office,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu. “With the continued help of the public, we will make sure that predators like Janet Fooshee will not get away with victimizing the very people whose investments they promise to protect.”