Registered Nurse and Disbarred Attorney Admit Stealing More Than $2 Million from Elderly Woman’s Estate
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 23, 2013|
ANCHORAGE—U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that registered nurse Brian Ben-Israel and disbarred California attorney Philip Eric Myers have pled guilty to mail fraud and wire fraud charges.
Ben-Israel, 53, formerly of Anchorage, Alaska, pled guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and filing a false tax return on September 16, 2013. Philip Eric Myers, 61, of Santa Barbara, California, pled guilty to mail fraud and wire fraud charges on September 20, 2013. Both Myers and Ben-Israel admitted to Chief U.S District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline that they devised a scheme to obtain in excess of $2 million between May 2007 and August 2009 from the trusts of Juanita Gielarowski, now deceased.
According to court documents, Ben-Israel was a registered nurse residing in Anchorage and working at Meridian Psychiatric Consulting Group. Myers was an attorney licensed in the State of California and was versed in trust and estate matters. In 2004, Ben-Israel was a business partner and friend of Myers.
Ben-Israel met and befriended Ms. Juanita Gielarowski and her daughter, Linda Stowers, who were both patients of Meridian Psychiatric Consulting Group. Ben-Israel became a health care provider and “financial adviser” to both. Ben-Israel introduced Myers to Stowers and Gielarowski.
Ms. Gielarowski was the trustee of the Juanita V. Gielarowski Revocable Trust. This trust was established for the purpose of conserving and using the assets for the benefit and care of Ms. Gielarowski. In May 2007, Ms. Gielarowski’s medical condition had severely deteriorated. Knowing of Ms. Gielarowski’s deteriorating condition, Ben-Israel worked with Myers to obtain control over assets of the Juanita V. Gielarowski Revocable Trust by creating a new trust. The effect of this action was to give Ben-Israel access to and control of the assets of the Juanita V. Gielarowski Revocable Trust. Subsequently, Ben-Israel and Myers diverted more than $2 million to the personal benefit of Ben-Israel and Myers.
The actions of Ben-Israel and Myers completely depleted the Juanita Gielarowski estate by August 2009 and caused Ms. Gielarowski to be moved from her long established home to a state funded elder care facility where she died in July 2010.
Ben-Israel is scheduled to be sentenced on December 19, 2013, and Myers is scheduled to be sentenced on January 17, 2014.
The United States is seeking forfeiture and restitution against Ben-Israel; Myers has agreed to forfeiture and restitution in the amount of $1,081,000.
Ms. Loeffler commends the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, and the Anchorage Police Department for the investigation of this case. Ms. Loeffler also commends the State of Alaska Office of Elder Fraud and Assistance who provided assistance in this investigation.