Frederick Financial Officer Sentenced for Stealing More Than $1.2 Million from an Elderly Client
GREENBELT, MD—U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Travis Wetzel, age 36, of Frederick, Maryland today to 42 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a fraudulent scheme to take $1,282,224 from an elderly client’s annuity account. Judge Blake also entered an order that Wetzel forfeit and pay restitution of $1,282,224.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Wetzel processed financial distribution documents for an investment advisory firm located in Rockville, Maryland. In 2009, Wetzel was promoted to branch operations manager. According to his plea agreement, from July 2010 to September 2012, Wetzel took advantage of his position of trust and embezzled a total of approximately $1,282,224 from an annuity account of an elderly client without the client’s knowledge, and used the money for his personal benefit. Wetzel knew that the client was elderly, whose age and physical condition facilitated repeatedly taking money from the client’s account.
Wetzel also laundered some of the money he took by transferring the money to other bank accounts he controlled.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorneys David Salem and Leah J. Bressack, who prosecuted the case.