A former Paw Paw insurance agent has agreed to pay restitution of some $70,000 after a no contest plea to elder abuse by embezzlement from an elderly client in Van Buren County.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) announced today that 60 year old Brian Lietzau entered a no contest plea to one count of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, $50,000 or more but less than $100,000. He appeared today in Van Buren County Circuit Court in front of Judge Kathleen Brickley.
As part of the plea deal, additional charges filed against Lietzau in 2018 were dropped and he agreed to pay restitution of $70,000 to the estate of the victim, who is now deceased. Lietzau also will surrender his license to practice insurance. Lietzau is the former owner of Farm Bureau-Lietzau Insurance in Paw Paw.
Attorney General Nessel says, “We expect and trust our agents to work on our behalf, not exploit our finances for their own personal uses,” and adds, “I’m grateful the victim’s estate is guaranteed reimbursement through this plea and I appreciate the professionals at the Department of Insurance and Financial Services for their hard work in serving the people of this state by bringing this matter to my office.”
Between November of 2012 and November of 2013, Lietzau served as fiduciary and power of attorney for the elderly victim. During that time, he converted her funds to his own personal use.
DIFS initially investigated the situation and referred the case to the Attorney General’s office.
DIFS Director Anita Fox says, “The State of Michigan is committed to protecting the elderly from those who would prey on them, and we will aggressively investigate and seek prosecution of these crimes,” adding, “We are pleased to partner with the Attorney General to bring this case to a close for the benefit of this family. We ask all Michiganders to help us protect our seniors and vulnerable adults by reporting suspected fraud to DIFS online or by calling 877-999-6442.”
Embezzlement from a vulnerable adult of $50,000 or more but less than $100,000 is a felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or $15,000 or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.
Lietzau is scheduled to appear in court for sentencing on March 15, 2021.
The newly established DIFS Fraud Investigation Unit investigates criminal and fraudulent activity related to the insurance and financial markets and works with the Attorney General and law enforcement to prosecute these crimes. Suspected insurance and financial services fraud can be reported to DIFS safely, easily and, in most cases, anonymously by calling 877-999-6442 or online by visiting the department’s website.
For more information about detecting and preventing elder abuse, you can visit the Elder Abuse Task Force website at this link: https://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-359-82917_92157—,00.html