When insurance firms launched social media initiatives, the results were rewarding.
Feb. 26--A lawyer who lost her license to practice law four years ago now faces criminal charges in connection with the same case, in which she allegedly posed online and in letters as a client who had died in order to bilk his estate.
Linda Ann Brost, 61, of Spooner, Wis., and St. Paul, faces two counts of theft by swindle, two counts of identity theft, and one count each of aggravated forgery of a document and insurance fraud.
She swindled $46,769 from the estate of Arthur Fischbach, who died on Sept. 11, 2005, at age 91, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in Ramsey County District Court.
Brost obtained her law license in Minnesota in 1987 and practiced in St. Paul.
In May 2007, the Office of Lawyer's Professional Responsibility, which oversees attorneys statewide, began investigating and learned that in September 2005, around the date Fishbach had died, Brost altered the date on her dead husband's expired notary stamp and forged his signature to fraudulently notarize her own signature on a certificate of trust prepared for Fischbach.
She was his trustee.
After he died, she presented the fraudulently notarized document to BankCherokee in a failed effort to access Fishbach's funds, which were about $140,000, the complaint states. She didn't get that money, but she didn't give up.
"Even after her failed attempt to access Fischbach's funds from Bank Cherokee, Brost obtained more than $46,000 from Jackson National Life Insurance Company by making material false statements, false representations and stealing the identity of Fischbach," the criminal complaint says.
In March 2009, after learning of these events, the Minnesota Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Brost from practicing law.
An investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Department found Brost had drafted Fischbach's will in July 1993 and also a change to it that he wanted in 1995, adding two friends who each were to be given $10,000. The rest of the assets were to be evenly distributed between St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in the West 7th neighborhood and Shriners Hospital for Children-Twin Cities.
Brost allegedly set up a phony email account in Fishbach's name and had his mail redirected from his home in the 100 block of S. Western Avenue to a house she owns at 420 Ohio Street in St. Paul.
She also opened a checking account in Fishbach's name in February 2011, six years after his death, identifying herself in the paperwork, and wrote letters purportedly from him as she tried to tap into his money.
Brost repeatedly posed as her deceased client in communications with Jackson National and others, too, the charges allege.
"Brost knowingly and intentionally devised a scheme and artifice to surreptitiously avoid reporting the existence of Fischbach's two annuities to the Fishbach Estate, the Office of Lawyer's Professional Responsibility or the Second Judicial District Court," the complaint says.
Joy Powell --651-925-5038
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