Previous insurance salesman accused of stealing $305,000 from former AL resident
A former insurance salesman in New Jersey faces up to 50 years in prison and $510,000 in fines for allegedly stealing the $305,000 life savings of a 90-year-old former assisted living resident who ultimately was evicted from her residence for nonpayment.
A state grand jury indicted Robert Berlin on charges of theft by deception and other offenses, according to a March 28 announcement by Acting New Jersey Attorney General Robert Lougy and the state Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.
Berlin's insurance license was revoked for defrauding elderly clients in 2008, but he continued to “manage” the assets of the woman, a former client who was a family friend. When the woman's daughter died in 2010, Berlin helped her extended family members relocate the woman to a private assisted living community and continued to oversee her finances.
According to the indictment, Berlin liquidated almost $195,000 from the woman's annuity funds and sold almost $111,000 worth of her stocks over four years, keeping the money for himself. He also allegedly used the woman's bank card to make at least $7,000 in personal purchases, including airline tickets, pet care and gymnastic classes and after-school activities for his children. The indictment also charges him with passing a $13,000 bad check to pay the assisted living community where the woman lived before she was evicted for nonpayment.
“If these allegations are true, Robert Berlin mercilessly victimized an elderly woman who trusted him with her life savings,” Lougy said in a statement. “Instead of protecting her financial well-being, he allegedly helped himself to her money, leaving her penniless and dependent on public assistance.”
The indictment also charges Berlin with bilking a couple out of $50,000 that they loaned him to renovate a fitness club he opened after losing his insurance license. Berlin, who met the couple through the elderly woman, allegedly obtained the loan under false pretenses. He never had any intention of using the money for gym improvements, and he never repaid the loan with interest as he had promised to do, prosecutors said.
Specifically, the indictment charges Berlin with:
- Two counts of theft by unlawful taking (second and third degree)
- Two counts of theft by deception (second and third degree)
- Theft by failure to make required dispensation of property received (second degree)
- Passing bad checks (third degree)
- Fraudulent use of credit cards (third degree)
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.