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Secretary of State

SOS > Media Center >  Press Releases > Former insurance agent found guilty of securities fraud by Franklin County jury Former insurance agent found guilty of securities fraud by Franklin County jury

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2010

Christopher West targeted terminally ill client with an unregistered investment opportunity

INDIANAPOLIS – A Franklin County jury has convicted defendant Christopher West of Connersville on three felony violations of the Indiana Securities Act. The guilty verdicts result from a joint investigation involving Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita’s Prosecution Assistance Unit (PAU) and the Indiana State Police. Franklin County Prosecutor Melvin Wilhelm filed the felony charges against West in November of 2009. 

According to evidence presented at trial, West advised the late Anthony Wiggins and his wife Taura of Laurel, Indiana, that they were eligible to receive an early payout on a life insurance policy due to Mr. Wiggins’ terminal cancer. West, a former insurance agent, suggested the couple should invest in an apartment complex in Indianapolis through a promissory note offered by West. Neither West nor the investment were registered with the Indiana Secretary of State Securities Division, as required by law.

“The mere offer of an unregistered investment in Indiana is a felony,” said Secretary Rokita. “This is a great example of how important it is to do your homework. I always urge Hoosiers to check out investment opportunities with our office before committing their hard-earned money.”

Matt Dumas, an attorney with the Secretary of State’s Prosecution Assistance Unit was appointed by Wilhelm to act as a special deputy prosecutor and teamed with Wilhelm to prosecute the case at trial.

“Thanks to the efforts of the Secretary of State, we were able to gain a conviction in a complex case and make sure justice was done for the people of the state of Indiana,” said Prosecutor Wilhelm. “Without the efforts of Matt Dumas and the Securities Division, we would not have been able to obtain a conviction.”

Sentencing for West is scheduled for April 28th at 1:00 p.m. in Franklin County Circuit Court. 

For more information on how to avoid becoming a victim of investment fraud, visit http://www.IndianaInvestmentWatch.com.

About the Prosecution Assistance Unit

In 2004, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita created the Prosecution Assistance Unit within the Securities Division of the Secretary of State’s Office. Its sole purpose is to assist police and prosecutors in investigating and prosecuting criminal violations of the Indiana Securities Act and the Indiana Loan Brokers Act. The investigators and attorneys in the unit collectively have over 72 years of experience in investigating and prosecuting criminals. Since its inception, the Unit has helped to convict 48 criminals in state and federal courts across Indiana. In addition, courts have handed down over 300 years in sentences, and have ordered over $29.9 million in restitution for crime victims. The Unit operates under the direction and supervision of the Securities Commissioner and the Senior Investigator.

Media Contact: Jim Gavin: 317.233-8655 or media@sos.in.gov.

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