Posted by on September 22, 2017 3:32 pm
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Categories: San Jose + South Bay

(BayAreaNewsTalk.com) – A Santa Clara insurance broker was sentenced to 60 months in prison Wednesday for stealing more than $1 million from a widow’s trust account, prosecutors said.

Gary Thornhill, 65, was sentenced to serve prison time for wire fraud and mail fraud in connection with the scheme, according to U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch and FBI Special Agent in Charge John Bennett.

U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh handed down the sentence after Thornhill pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud June 7, according to prosecutors.

The insurance broker obtained nearly $1.5 million in unauthorized funds from his client’s policy, prosecutors said.

The insurance broker “really took advantage of this family,” stealing from them despite “a long-standing financial relationship,” Koh said, according to prosecutors.

In addition to the prison term, Koh sentenced Thornhill to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $1,409,843.90 in restitution. Thornhill was ordered to begin serving his sentence no later than Nov. 15.

Thornhill admitted he used his position in a boutique insurance brokerage to withdraw funds from a widow’s trust account, prosecutors said.

In 1998, Thornhill sold an insurance policy to a married couple, and after the husband passed away in 2005, the widow became the sole insured of the plan. Around February 2008, Thornhill became the trustee of the entity that became the legal owner of the policy, prosecutors said.

Thornhill admitted that instead of acting in his client’s best interest, he transmitted written requests for funds to be drawn against the cash value of the widow’s policy without her knowledge, consent or
authorization, prosecutors said.