|For Immediate Release
Case # 09CF1222
May 20, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
INSURANCE AGENT ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF STEALING OVER $87,000 FROM 82-YEAR-OLD WIDOW
SANTA ANA – An insurance agent was arrested today on charges of stealing more than $87,000 from an 82-year-old widow after convincing her to write checks to his personal business under the pretense that she was investing in annuities. Edilberto Riveral, 57, Rancho Cucamonga, is charged with three felony counts of theft from an elder, one felony count of grand theft by embezzlement, and aggravated white collar crime sentencing enhancements for loss over $100,000 and $50,000. If convicted on all counts, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of seven years and eight months in state prison. Riveral is being held on $250,000 bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bail. He is expected to be arraigned Friday, May 22, 2009, at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. The time and Department are to be determined.
Between December 2002 and January 2003, Riveral is accused of contacting 82-year-old widow Elizabeth B., claiming to be an agent for Great American Life Insurance Company and offering to assist her with her finances. The victim trusted Riveral because he had previously done business with her husband in the past. Elizabeth B.’s husband had handled the couple’s finances until he died in 2002.
After reviewing the victims’ financial accounts, Riveral is accused of convincing Elizabeth B. to transfer $44,000 from her retirement account and $70,000 from an interest bearing account into annuities with Great American Life Insurance Company. An annuity is an investment in an insurance company with the promise of periodic financial returns. The defendant is accused of failing to provide any documentation to Elizabeth B. regarding her investment and telling the victim, “Don’t worry, everything is okay,” when she inquired about her annuities. The defendant is also accused of convincing the victim to purchase $13,000 in life insurance, which she neither wanted nor needed.
In June 2003, Riveral is convincing Elizabeth B. to withdraw money from her Great American Life Insurance Company annuity accounts. He is accused of instructing the victim to write a $20,000 check to Synergia Enterprises, which the victim believed to be an annuity but in reality was a company owned by Riveral. He is accused of then funneling the $20,000 into the personal accounts of family members.
In October 2003, the defendant is accused of instructing the victim to write another check for $7,400. He is also accused of telling the victim that he had withdrawn money from her annuity to cover medical costs for Elizabeth B., which she did not need or authorize, and would need a $60,000 check to Synergia Enterprises to correct the error. After the victim wrote the check, Riveral is again accused of funneling the money into the personal accounts of family members.
The victim discovered the theft after the Internal Revenue Service froze and seized her bank accounts as a result of $20,000 in unpaid taxes related to the sale of her annuities in October 2003. Elizabeth B. was forced to sell her home and move in with her daughter because she could no longer financially support herself.
Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.