A former Bristol financial customer service specialist for Columbia Management Investment Services (CMIS), a subsidiary of Ameriprise Financial, was sentenced last week to 18 months in federal prison.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Ted A. Arruda, Resident Agent in Charge of the Providence Office of the United States Secret Service, said Ronald Hunt, 45, of Collinsville, Ill., was sentenced after defrauding the estate of two deceased sisters from Galway, Ireland, of more than $1.2 million. At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith also ordered Mr. Hunt, formerly of Bristol, to serve two years supervised release and 100 hours of community service upon completion of his prison sentence.
Mr. Hunt pleaded guilty on July 16, 2015, to wire fraud.
According to court documents, in March 2013, while working at a CMIS call center in Providence, Mr. Hunt used his position to research deceased clients who had unredeemed Ameriprise Financial accounts and no listed beneficiaries. He identified two such accounts belonging to deceased sisters in Galway, Ireland.
Court documents say Mr. Hunt submitted redemption paperwork for the two sisters’ accounts, using the alias “Sean Kane,” as the executor for the accounts. On May 20, 2013, using the alias, he transferred $769,242.24 from one sister’s account and $459,531.91 from the second sister’s account into a CMIS account he created. Two days later he transferred the entire amount, $1,228,774.15, to a fictitious business bank account he created. On May 23, 2013, and again on August 29, 2013, Mr. Hunt withdrew funds totaling $750,000 from the business account.
During the course of the investigation, Ameriprise recovered nearly all of the stolen funds. Judge Smith ordered Mr. Hunt to pay restitution in the amount of nearly $21,000, which represents the balance of the amount of money stolen from the sisters’ estates which was not recovered by law enforcement. Mr. Hunt presented a check for the amount on the day of his sentencing.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly, with the assistance of Assistant U.S Attorney John P. McAdams. The matter was investigated by the United States Secret Service, with the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Enforcement.