SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — A 66-year-old Sarasota insurance agent who funded a life of luxury with money collected from “victim-investors” was found guilty on nine counts of wire fraud following a six-week trial.
Authorities say 66-year-old Phillip Wasserman, a former Sarasota lawyer and licensed insurance agent, convinced several elderly “victim-investors” to put their money into his new insurance venture, “FastLife.”
Wasserman persuaded victims to liquidate their traditional investments and/or to borrow funds against existing life insurance policies to generate cash to invest in his venture. He would then use some of the funds to make payments to earlier victim-investors.
Leftover funds were used to finance a lavish lifestyle that included a beach house on Casey Key, Tampa Bay Lightning season and playoff tickets, concerts, vehicles, jet skis, jewelry, personal celebrity entertainment, gambling, retail shopping, home improvements, personal insurance, and a host of other expenses for his personal benefit.
Evidence showed that Wasserman even took steps to evade paying more than $900,000 owed in taxes.
Once confronted, authorities said Wasserman urged one witness to lie to investigators, tried to dissuade several victim-investors from cooperating, and asked that one victim-investor make a baseless complaint against an investigator.
Wasserman faces a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment on each of the conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud counts. Authorities are also seeking a money judgment in the amount of at least $6.3 million, the proceeds of the crime.