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Former Michigan agent gets jail time for $800,000 scam

A former Michigan life insurance agent will spend at least the next six years behind bars for stealing more than $800,000 from mostly elderly clients.

Paul Garceau, Jr., 51, of Grosse Point Park, pleaded in a Macomb County court to three felonies as part of a Ponzi scheme that saw him embezzle $800,918 from a dozen metro-Detroit clients. He was sentenced to a minimim six years in prison and must repay $613,199 in restitution.

The Michigan life insurance provider licenses of Garceau and his company, Apex Wealth Management, were revoked in February 2016 by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services. Through Apex, Garceau sold life insurance, annuities, and health and accident insurance.

Michigan’s attorney general’s office said that between 2008 and 2015, Garceau embezzled the money from 12 elderly clients in Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Livingston Counties.

news.crime4An investigation into Garceau’s criminal activity began in October 2014, when Michigan State Police looked into an embezzlement and forgery complaint. The Department of Insurance and Financial Services investigated further and uncovered evidence that Garceau was engaging in illegal activities.

As part of his scheme, Garceau would convince his clients to withdraw funds from legitimate investments, promising higher returns by reinvesting in better opportunities. He did not reinvest the money, however, instead using the cash for himself and his Ponzi scheme.

Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Richard Caretti condemned Garceau’s crime, calling it “unspeakable.”

“There’s a distinct pattern to your treachery. Most of your victims appear to be elderly people nearing retirement who invested with you to achieve their dream of security, financial stability and happiness in their golden years,” Caretti said. “Instead you shattered those dreams with a financial sledgehammer.”

Garceau pleaded guilty to embezzlement by an agent greater than $100,000 – a 20-year felony, and two counts of embezzlement by an agent between $50,000 and $100,000 – a 15-year felony. He was sentenced to six years to a maximum of 20 years for the first charge. For the latter charges, he was sentenced six to 15 years. The sentences will run concurrently.

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