Two Rhode Island men, an estate planning attorney and his employee, pled guilty to single counts of wire fraud and conspiracy on Monday, one week into a trial that started last week and was expected to last three months. Joseph Caramadre, CEO of Estate Planning Resources in Cranston, and his employee, Raymour Radhakrishnan, had earlier pled not guilty to a 66-count indictment on charges including conspiracy, identity theft, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. Caramadre was also charged with witness tampering. After entering their pleas in the U.S. District Court in Providence, both men are facing up to 10 years in federal prison for their roles in the scam. Sentencing is scheduled for February.
The charges stem from a scheme to steal the identities of patients who responded to an ad the duo put out in a Catholic newspaper offering $2000 to people who were terminally ill. The patients were told that accounts would be opened to benefit their families or help others with a similar disease. After obtaining the patient’s personal information, they took out variable annuities and “death-put bonds” that would pay out when the patient died. In doing so, they would represent to the companies issuing the accounts that the people opening the accounts had substantial wealth and investment experience. The men reaped over $30 million from insurance companies and brokerage houses over the course of the scam.
At the start of the trial, testimony began with a 2009 video deposition by a Mr. Wiley, who has since died of cancer. In it, the man stated that he heard about a philanthropist giving out money to help dying people with their expenses. He met with Mr. Radhakrishnan, who gave him $3000 and had him sign some paperwork and turn over personal information. Radhakrishnan then fabricated papers bearing Wiley’s signature that authorized accounts to be opened in his name. Wiley said he did not give such permission and did not recognize the documents.
U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha, who prosecuted the case, said the defendants took the identities of the terminally ill patients for no other reason than to make money. In a statement following the entering of the pleas of guilty, Neronha stated: “Today’s message is that greed is not good.”
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