A Jersey City man has pleaded guilty to running an insurance scam to steal nearly $226,000 from his own mother back in 2014, Acting Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Angel Fontaina, 45, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty, in Hudson County Superior Court yesterday, to second-degree theft by deception in the scam that almost completely drained his 85-year-old mother’s two fixed annuity accounts with New York Life Insurance Company, officials said.
In pleading guilty, Fontaina admitted he siphoned money from his mother’s accounts in a series of 10 withdrawals made between June 2014 and October 2014.
The first withdrawal of $35,000 was made by submitting a fraudulent withdrawal form to the New York Life office. The other nine withdrawals – which ranged from $10,001 to $32,258 – were made via phone calls in which Fontaina pretended to be his mother, authorities said.
The 10 withdrawals totaled $225,927 and the money was directly deposited into Fontaina’s bank account, according to court documents.
New York Life initiated an investigation into the series of suspicious withdrawals, and then referred the case to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor after discovering Fontaina withdrew the money without his mother’s knowledge or consent, officials said.
When confronted, Fontaina allegedly promised to return the money to the accounts but the check he wrote to return the money was bad.
The state will recommend a seven-year-prison term when Fontaina is sentenced on August 19. As part of his sentencing, Fontaina will be ordered to pay $225,927 in restitution to his mother.
“Angel Fontaina helped himself to his own mother’s hard-earned savings and defrauded her insurance company,” Porrino said in a statement. “This defendant’s greed appropriately landed him in jail.”
“He all but wiped out the money his mother needed to support herself in her old age,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Lu. “The significant prison sentence Angel Fontaina will serve is just punishment for such despicable behavior.”
Back in May 2015, Fontaina was also charged with setting six cars on fire by Jersey City Police Department (h/t The Jersey Journal).