Financial services company Estate Growth Management and its principals, Gary Singer and Margaret Zimmerman, each pled guilty to two felony charges after reaching a plea agreement with the Michigan Attorney General's Office.
"Everyone involved in this embezzlement scheme should be ashamed," said Attorney General Mike Cox. "They stole from Michigan's most vulnerable citizens."
Defendants Estate Growth Management and Margaret Florence Zimmerman, 48, of Traverse City, pled guilty to two felony counts of Embezzlement by a Person in a Relationship of Trust over $20,000, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
Gary Singer, 54, of Traverse City, pled guilty to two felony counts of False Pretenses over $20,000, which also carries a 10-year maximum prison sentence.
The charges were the result of a year-long investigation into the companys business practices by Coxs Health Care Fraud Division in conjunction with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department and the Michigan State Police.
The investigation revealed that while clients lost over $1.1 million, defendants' combined commissions were in excess of $200,000. The defendants persuaded their clients to invest in California-based Network Services Depot and/or Bikini Vending.
Large amounts of investment monies were lost to early cancellation penalties, taxes, and fees in exchange for promises of high returns that never transpired. The remaining balance of the investments was also lost.
The plea agreement required each defendant to pay $200,000 on January 6, 2006; pay the balance of restitution owed totaling $705,624.49 to the 8 investment victims; and, to surrender their licenses to sell insurance.