Northampton County ex-bank president charged in $10M Ponzi scheme [The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)]
|By Pamela Lehman, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Near the end of a six-month probe that began with a tip from one of the investors, authorities said the 67-year-old financial adviser from
"It's a tragedy that lots of people here that we have identified have lost tons of money,"
In announcing the dozens of criminal charges recommended by a grand jury, Morganelli called Freer's conduct despicable, saying he mostly conned middle-age and elderly victims out of millions and said others may come forward.
Freer and his wife, Beverly, who is also being investigated by authorities but has not been charged, did not live lavishly in their rented home at
At the time of his arrest, Freer's bank accounts were listed only in the "five figures," said Assistant District Attorney
Freer is charged with 90 counts each of theft by deception and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds. He also faces dozens of counts of forgery, deceptive business practices, failure to register under the state securities act and sales and purchases violation under the securities act.
Freer is in prison under the same bail amount he is accused of stealing --
According to the grand jury presentment:
Freer worked for
While working for Aviva, authorities say Freer began the Ponzi scheme, offering investors high-yield investments with little or no risk, Morganelli said. Freer's first investors were clients of Aviva whom Freer had persuaded to invest with him privately.
Freer was fired from Aviva in 2009, but continued to tell his clients that their investments were with the company. In
The grand jury investigation began investigating Freer in March with only one victim, identified as 80-year-old
She told authorities that in 2009, she was referred to Freer and although she gave him thousands, he "continually told her" she needed to give him more funds and he would double them.
When Morris asked accountant
From Morris' case, authorities began seizing bank records and quickly uncovered a total of 82 victims that spanned from the
Morganelli said as Freer would persuade clients to invest with him, they would recommend him to other family and friends. He said that although Freer would send annuity payments to his clients, he would withdraw the money from other accounts funded by Freer's growing list of investors.
Morganelli said one of the biggest loss by Freer's victims include the family of
Freer had convinced Pacchioli, 82,of
Other victims included
"Because they had known Freer for such a long time, they trusted him and took him at his word," court records state.
The Steeds invested more than
Since the scam unraveled, the Steeds told authorities the
"The Steeds have been led to believe that all of the money they invested with Freer is gone," court records state.
In addition to using the victims' money for everyday expenses, authorities released Freer's other sources of income, including a monthly pension from
During his arrest Friday, Morganelli said Freer offered little, although a county detective had noted Freer looked "very pale" and seemed "somewhat scared."
Morganelli said authorities will continue to probe Freer and his wife.
"We're not done yet," Morganelli said. "Not by a long shot."
(c)2013 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
Visit The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) at www.mcall.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services