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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
December 5, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director
Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor
-
Greta Gooden Brown, Insurance Fraud Prosecutor

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 

Former Hunterdon County Financial Planner Pleads Guilty to Theft of $300,000 from 78-Year-Old Client

TRENTON - Attorney General Peter C. Harvey announced that the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has obtained a guilty plea from a former Hunterdon County insurance broker and financial planner charged with stealing more than $300,000 from the retirement accounts of a 79-year-old Somerset County resident. Sentencing in Hunterdon County Superior Court is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2006.

Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy said that Michael Chamberlain, 64, 447 NW 76th Court, Ocala, FL, (formerly of 8 Bridge Hollow Road, Califon, Hunterdon County), pleaded guilty before Hunterdon County Superior Court Judge Roger F. Mahon to a charge of theft by unlawful taking. Under the terms of the guilty plea, Chamberlain faces up to five years in State Prison and must pay $303,756 in restitution to the 79-year-old victim.

According to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, Chamberlain was charged via a State Grand Jury indictment returned on Nov. 5, 2004. The indictment alleged that between Sept. 11, 1997 and July 5, 2003, Chamberlain systematically looted the 79 year-old victims’ annuity accounts and stole personal property, including a grand piano and personal music transcripts and compositions. It was charged that Chamberlain invested the stolen monies for his own benefit and purchased a resort home valued at more than $400,000 in Ocola, Fl.

The 2004 indictment charged that Chamberlain, a former Hunterdon County-based securities broker, diverted investment funds from at least three separate American Skandia annuity accounts he managed for the 79-year-old senior citizen. In 2003, the victim was notified by the Internal Revenue Service that he owed more than $56,000 in back taxes from taxable withdrawals from the annuity accounts. The victim contacted American Skandia and Chamberlain regarding the status of the accounts and was advised by Chamberlain that the monies had been invested and stolen.

Chamberlain was arrested on July 26, 2004, at his Florida residence on a New Jersey warrant charging theft by unlawful taking and forgery. Chamberlain was initially lodged in the Marion County, FL, jail pending extradition to New Jersey. On July 30, 2004, Chamberlain waived extradition and was returned to New Jersey by State Investigators assigned to the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor. Chamberlain was released from custody after posting $100,000 bail.

The Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s investigation determined that the 79 year-old victim attended Princeton University as an undergraduate and graduate programs at Yale University. The victim is a decorated WWII veteran, who was shot down over the Philippines. He now plays organ for his local church and collects money for the Salvation Army. As a result of the fraud, the senior victim was left without retirement funds, nearly penniless, and living in an independent living facility.

The investigation was coordinated by Deputy Attorney General Lewis Korngut and State Investigators Robert Stemmer and Earl Washington. Prudential Insurance Investigator Karen Hagen and Prudential’s Special Investigations Unit uncovered the alleged fraud and referred the investigation to the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.

The Division of Criminal Justice - Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor maintains a toll-free hotline to report instances of insurance fraud at 1-877-55-FRAUD. Additional information about insurance fraud is available through the insurance fraud Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org.

A copy of prior press releases, a photograph of the defendant, and related information on “Financial Fraud Against the Elderly,” is available via the Division of Criminal Justice Web site at: www.njdcj.org.

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