A former Prudential Financial (“Prudential”) life insurance agent from Quincy, Susan Abbott, 56, pled guilty in Norfolk Superior Court on March 17, 2016, to charges arising from her embezzlement of more than $275,000 from 49 of her clients between 2007 and 2009. During this period, Ms. Abbott had worked from her own office in Quincy as a Prudential life insurance agent.
Report from bank on Ms. Abbott’s activities started an investigation
An unsolicited report from Citizens Bank in 2009, regarding Ms. Abbott’s financial activities started the Attorney General’s investigators looking into Ms. Abbott’s insurance business and eventually her scheme for defrauding her clients, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
The Attorney General’s investigation determined that between March 2007 and May 2009 Ms. Abbott had converted for her personal use more than $275,000 from Prudential policies and accounts owned by 49 separate clients.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Ms. Abbott accomplished her asset diversions through various false representations to her clients and to Prudential that induced Prudential to issue policy loans and withdrawals of cash values accumulated in her clients’ life insurance policies.
On a number of occasions, Ms. Abbott initiated policy loans or retirement account withdrawals by the simple expedient of submitting false documents to Prudential, allegedly from her clients, that requested the loans or withdrawals from their policies or accounts. The forged documents that Ms. Abbott submitted also contained a supposed request by the client that Prudential send the clients’ check to Ms. Abbott’s office.
After Ms. Abbott received the checks issued by Prudential payable to the client, Ms. Abbot deposited them into personal bank accounts that she controlled. Apparently, the circumstance of these Prudential checks payable to her clients finding their way into Ms. Abbott’s personal accounts resulted in Citizen’s Bank alerting the Attorney General’s Office.
Indicted in 2014 for numerous felonies arising out of her client thefts
A Statewide Grand Jury convened by the Attorney General indicted Ms. Abbott in 2014, charging her with multiple charges including:
- Grand larceny
- Grand larceny from a person over sixty years old
- Grand larceny by Single Scheme
- Identity Fraud
- Forgery, and
- Uttering false documents.
The charges alleging larceny from a person over sixty years of age, involved conversion from three particular elderly victims from each of whom Ms. Abbott stole between $18,500 and $25,000. These charge carried enhanced prison sentences and fines that effectively doubled the penalties proscribed for convictions of grand larceny where the victims were less than sixty years old.
Ms. Abbott’s largest theft amounted to more than $70,000 from a single client, who had asked her to assist in the transfer of funds into a retirement account managed by Prudential.
Guilty pleas to all charges sends Ms. Abbot to jail for eighteen months starting March 31
Ms. Abbott entered a change of plea from “Not Guilty” to “Guilty” on Thursday, March 17, before Superior Court Judge, Thomas A. Connors.
Her change of plea resulted in her pleading guilty to fourteen felony charges including: five counts of grand larceny; three counts of larceny from a person over sixty years of age; two counts of larceny by a single scheme; and one count each of identity fraud, forgery, and uttering a false document.
After Ms. Abbott acknowledged in open court the underlying facts regarding her criminal activities, Judge Connors accepted her guilty plea and sentenced Ms. Abbott to 18 months in the House of Correction and a four-year term of probation following her release from custody.
Judge Connors ordered her to report herself into custody on March 31, to begin serving her sentence.
Attorney General’s Office working with Prudential for reimbursement to Ms. Abbott’s victims
Attorney General Maura Healey, in announcing the sentence stated: “This defendant abused her position and stole from her clients, many of whom were vulnerable and elderly, and used their savings for her own personal profit,” Attorney General Healey continued, “Our office is committed to going after those who take advantage of others and violate their trust.”
While the Attorney General’s Office was investigating Ms. Abbott, Prudential also conducted its own internal investigation. As a result of the Prudential’s investigation, the company terminated Abbott’s agency agreement and her relationship with the company.
When the Grand Jury’s indictments were first announced, Prudential stated that it was “actively working to respond to its clients who have been targeted by Ms. Abbott.”
The Attorney General’s Office announcement on Ms. Abbott’s guilty pleas and sentence, acknowledged the assistance and full cooperation provided by Prudential during the course of this investigation and stated that Prudential, “will continue to work with the AG’s Office to reimburse the victims in the case.”