A month after being charged, a former central Pennsylvania insurance agent pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to conning at least 30 clients out of more than $1.5 million in a long-running investment scheme.
Dennis F. Wright, 68, of Lewistown, admitted to a single securities fraud count during a hearing before U.S. Middle District Senior Judge Sylvia H. Rambo. The charge carries a penalty of up to 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Wright, owner of Wright Associates and a former agent with the AXA Equitable Life insurance Company, entered his plea under an agreement with prosecutors. Assistant U.S. Attorney George J. Rocktashel said that deal requires Wright to make restitution to his victims.
The charge stemmed from a probe by the FBI and the federal Securities Exchange Commission which concluded that between the mid-1990s and June 2012, Wright misled clients in Mifflin County into liquidating investments and giving him the money to invest in what he told them were “managed funds.”
Wright instead diverted that money to pay his business and personal expenses, Rocktashel said. When clients asked for statements on their “investments,” Wright created bogus ones, the prosecutor said.
After Rocktashel said Wright has cooperated with the investigation, Rambo agreed to allow him to remain free without bail pending a sentencing hearing that has yet to be scheduled.