Colorado Man Sentenced to 63 Months in Federal Prison for Defrauding Elderly Victim
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 12, 2014|
DENVER—Akihiko Siegfried, age 55, formerly of Denver, Colorado, was sentenced Monday, March 10, 2014, by U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer to serve 63 months in federal prison for mail fraud and money laundering, federal law enforcement authorities announced. Siegfried was also ordered to serve a three-year term of supervised release following his prison sentence. Judge Brimmer also ordered him to pay $512,341.97 in restitution to the victim. Siegfried is currently in custody and will ultimately be designated to a Bureau of Prisons facility to complete service of his term of imprisonment.
Siegfried was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on June 17, 2013. He pled guilty on October 28, 2013 to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. According to the facts contained in the indictment as well as the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, in January of 2008, Siegfried knocked on the door of the elderly victim’s residence and, when the door opened, Siegfried pretended to be distraught and was crying. Siegfried falsely told the victim that Siegfried’s parents had just died in a car crash and that he had no money and no family to turn to for help. Siegfried asked to borrow money. The victim was then an 89-year-old widower of Japanese descent with little family, and asked Siegfried if he was Japanese, which Siegfried replied that he was. The victim felt sorry for Siegfried and, in part because of their shared Japanese heritage, decided to help Siegfried.
Siegfried borrowed from the victim several times and in the middle of 2008 falsely told the victim he would inherit substantial money as a result of his parents’ death, but that it would be tied up in probate for some time and he needed money for paying the associated fees and taxes. During the entire scheme, Siegfried told the victim he would repay all of the money when Siegfried received his inheritance. In fact, Siegfried’s father died in the 1990s, his mother died in 2002, and there was never any inheritance held up in probate; however, from mid-2008 through March of 2013 Siegfried repeatedly falsely told the victim the inheritance was held up in probate.
From March of 2009 through March of 2013, Siegfried frequently spent time as an inmate in the Colorado Department of Corrections. When he was in jail during that time frame, he repeatedly called and sent letters through the mail asking for money, directing the victim to deposit and wire transfer money to Siegfried’s inmate account with the Colorado Department of Corrections. Siegfried told the victim he needed the money because he was required to pay for his diabetes medicine while he was in jail and because he needed to pay more probate fees and taxes for his purported inheritance. In fact, Siegfried has never been diagnosed with diabetes, has never taken medication for diabetes, and inmates of the Colorado Department of Corrections are not required to pay for medicine prescribed to them while they are in custody.
In October of 2012, when Siegfried was released from prison, he received a check payable to himself in the amount of $49,655.30 from the State of Colorado, Department of Corrections. At least $10,000 of this money was proceeds of the fraud scheme involving the elderly victim.
“In this case, the defendant targeted his victim not only because he was a senior, but by manipulating his victim’s Japanese-American heritage,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “By that cold, calculating manipulation, the defendant stole a lifetime of savings. The lengthy prison sentence handed down by Judge Brimmer was appropriate and just.”
“We hear all too often of elderly victims robbed of their life’s savings,” said Stephen Boyd, Special Agent in Charge for IRS Criminal Investigation, Denver Field Office. “Let this sentencing be a reminder, those who prey on elderly victims will be put in jail.”
“The FBI is confident the outcome of this case will deter future con-artists who seek to get rich by preying on elderly victims,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas P. Ravenelle.
This case was investigated by agents with IRS Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Colorado Department of Correction. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pegeen Rhyne. AUSA James Russell is handling the asset forfeiture.