In an investigation assisted by Greenwich Police, a former lawyer in Connecticut will spend nearly four years behind bars after admitting to her role in bilking clients out of more than $169,000 through several schemes.
Bristol resident Jodi Zils Gagne, 43, was sentenced on Tuesday, April 23, to 46 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud late last year.
Zils Gagne, an attorney, acted as a court-appointed conservator for several of her victims in Connecticut. U.S. Attorney John Durham said that as a conservator, Zils Gagne was appointed by the probate court to oversee the financial or personal affairs of adults who were incapable of managing his or her finances or was unable to care for himself or herself.
Beginning in May 2015, Zils Gagne began misappropriating her victims’ money and overfilled them. Durham said that the stolen money was intended for her victims’ medical care, housing, bills, personal expenses, and legitimate conservator fees. Zils Gagne also failed to disclose facts about her activities to the Bristol probate court.
She defrauded one elderly victim out of approximately $136,000 and appropriated $113,000 of that money under the guise of an “investment.” Instead, that “investment” was a 10-year note that paid only a prime rate and was signed between her and Zils Gagne’s husband.
According to Durham, that money was used to fund Zils Gagne’s husband’s start-up company, a Bristol-based Internet radio station. The terms and details of that deal only were discovered in probate court, during which Durham said that Zils Gagne repeatedly lied, sometimes under oath.
The investigation also determined that Zils Gagne arranged for the sale of two victims’ houses to a relative for less than the appraised value of the property. The buyer then renovated the home, sold them for a substantial profit, and kicked back Zils Gagne and her husband.
In total, through her schemes, Zils Gagne defrauded six victims out of $169,402.74.
Zils Gagne pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Oct. 10 last year. She remains released on a $50,000 bond and has been ordered to report to prison on July 8. In September last year, a Connecticut Superior Court judge suspended Zils Gagne from practicing law.
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