On Oct. 2, 2014, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jabari Ragas, of New Orleans, was sentenced to 42 months in prison and three years of supervised release for money laundering and tax fraud. Ragas was also ordered to pay nearly $1,700,000 in restitution for the money laundering count, and $259,210 for the tax fraud count. According to court documents, Ragas was employed by as a registered broker and investment adviser from 2005 through 2009. Ragas previously pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $1,400,000 from clients, and failing to pay nearly $260,000 in tax due and owing to the IRS. In early 2006, a client of Ragas indicated that he wished to open a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) account to allow him to contribute towards retirement. Without authorization, Ragas began moving money from the SEP account into an account controlled by Ragas. Ragas supplied the client with a fraudulent account statement along with a fraudulent balance. After using the interstate wire to embezzle funds from the client’s account, Ragas then committed money laundering by further transferring $20,000 into a different account that he controlled. Additionally, on Oct. 12, 2008, Ragas signed and filed an income tax return for 2007 that did not report approximately $288,000 in income.
On May 22, 2015, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, David J. Bertnagel, of Thomaston, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Bertnagel was also ordered to pay $808,029 in restitution to the Town of Plymouth and cooperate with the IRS to pay all outstanding taxes, penalties and interest. On Feb. 20, 2015, Bertnagel pleaded guilty to theft from a local government receiving federal funds and making and subscribing a false tax return. According to court documents, from October 2011 through October 2014, Bertnagel was employed as the Finance Director for the Town of Plymouth. During that time period, Bertnagel issued 207 checks totaling approximately $808,030 from the Town’s payroll account to himself. Bertnagel used the embezzled funds to make mortgage payments, pay credit card bills, fund home improvement projects and purchase more than $100,000 in coins, stamps and other collectibles. He also converted more than $182,000 of the stolen funds by way of cashed checks, ATM withdrawals and money orders. In addition, Bertnagel’s federal tax returns for the 2012 and 2013 tax years failed to report any of his embezzled income, resulting in a tax loss to the government of $145,564 for those two years. Bertnagel also did not file a tax return with the IRS for the 2011 tax year.