HUDSON — An insurance agent is accused of selling expensive investments to a retired couple, costing them $200,000 in various charges while he racked up commission fees, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said.
The couple, in their 70s, had amassed $1.3 million in investments by the time the husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008, the Sheriff's Office said. Overwhelmed with the responsibility of managing those funds, the wife turned to Richard Carter, 52, for help.
Detectives said Carter engaged in "a systematic pattern of 'twisting' " — persuading the wife to sell some of their investments to buy other products that gave him a nice commission. Those sales triggered surrender charges that ate into the couple's nest egg.
Between January and April 2010, Carter had the wife sign paperwork without explaining the transactions, detectives said. English is not her native language, and her ability to process events diminished as she began chemotherapy, the Sheriff's Office said.
The wife hired new financial managers last year, and Carter shuffled the couple's money into other investments so he could collect fees and prevent the new managers from controlling the accounts, the Sheriff's Office said.
The sheriff's Economic Crime Unit and the Florida Department of Financial Services launched an investigation, culminating Tuesday with Carter's arrest.
Carter "admitted he benefitted from the commissions and acknowledged causing the huge surrender charges, but claimed he was protecting the victims' investments from other money managers," a Sheriff's Office report said.
Carter, of 7330 New York Ave., was charged with scheme to defraud. He was released from the Land O'Lakes jail on $5,000 bail.
Authorities say the full $1.3 million has been returned to the wife. Her husband passed away during the course of the investigation.