An Edina financial adviser has admitted to cheating an ailing elderly man out of more than $200,000.
John V. Heath, 45, pleaded guilty this week in Hennepin County District Court to identity theft and agreed to a 41-month sentence. Heath will serve the first two-thirds in prison and the balance on supervised release.
As part of the plea deal, a second case in which he allegedly swindled thousands of dollars from an 83-year-old woman will be dropped against Heath, the sole proprietor of JVH Wealth Management in Bloomington.
“Sadly, Mr. Heath wanted to live a lifestyle his income could not support,” County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement announcing the plea deal, “so he preyed on a man who trusted him and who Heath knew was in poor mental and physical health. It is despicable, and now he will pay the price.”
Defense attorney Marsh Halberg said Wednesday that his client “admitted early on to the wrongdoing with the victim. A substantial amount of the money taken had not been spent and was recovered for return to the victim. Mr. Heath is determined upon his release from prison to pay back all monies owed.”
According to the criminal complaint and Heath’s admissions while entering his plea:
Heath’s 88-year-old longtime client, who lives with his daughter in Robbinsdale and is afflicted with Alzheimer’s and the consequences of a stroke in 2013, set up an annuity with Denver-based Jackson National Life that grew to $220,000.
Early last year, a residential address in Edina and an e-mail account of firstname.lastname@example.org, both belonging to Heath, were added to the annuity account.
Without notifying his client, Heath then opened a checking account at Wings Financial in Edina using the man’s social security number, birth date and driver’s license number, along with Heath’s home address and phone number, and the e-mail address.
In September 2015, Heath took out $18,500 from the annuity and deposited into the Wings account. He made more withdrawals until cleaning out the final $194,172 from the annuity in late October 2015.
Heath used the money to pay more than $20,000 on his credit card bill and withdrew more than $30,000 in cash. He also spent more than $2,500 of it at Target and another $636.00 in airport parking.
Wings became suspicious of the number of transactions in such a brief time, closed the checking account on Jan. 20 and notified authorities.
“Everyone involved in this case did a good job,” Freeman said, “from employees at Wings Financial who saw irregularities, to the Robbinsdale police and the Minnesota Department of Commerce investigators.”