Furman Alexander “Alex” Ford, a former broker with New York Life, has been convicted on 11 counts of mail fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft by a jury on 10th March and potentially faces incarceration lasting decades. He is currently 51 years old.
According to information made available by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, more than $1.3 million was stolen from a 72-year client by Ford by authorizing withdrawals from the client’s annuity account much larger than the monthly payment of $6000 that had been set up, through forged letters.
Ford had facilitated the client in setting up the annuity account, as a New York Life charitable annuity trust, with the sale proceeds of a property, worth $1.3 million, that had been inherited by her. Between August and December 2014, Ford withdrew $400,000 with the fraudulent letters of withdrawal. Thereafter, on 29th December 2014, he withdrew $1 million.
In a statement, acting U.S. Attorney Norman Acker said, “Integrity and trust are characteristics that all financial agents should embody. Unfortunately, the defendant used his position to prey upon one of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, and today he was held accountable for his criminal actions.”
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Spokesman Kevin B. Maher, in an emailed statement, said that New York Life “fully cooperated with the appropriate authorities throughout these proceedings and reimbursed the victim for her losses.” The $1.4 million arbitration complaint was settled by the insurer in June 2019, without any contribution by Ford, according to details available on Ford’s FINRA BrokerCheck file.
What did he do it for? Apparently to fund a lifestyle that included a BMW, guns, child support, Rolex watches, and a cruise to the Bahamas.
From 2007 to 2015, the Raleigh, NC-based Ford was associated with New York Life’s broker-dealer. According to his BrokerCheck record, he was associated with five other firms between 1989 and 2007, when he started with New York Life. BrokerCheck also reveals three judgments/ liens against him for a total value of $9356.
Ford lists a consulting firm that “connects high profile athletes and entertainers to nonprofits,” for free appearances at events like golf tournaments, among his outside business activities.
This indictment comes close on the heels of a conviction by a grand jury in a separate case that is part of a web that constitutes the largest ever health care fraud and opioid enforcement action. In that case, it was alleged that false Medicare claims to the tune of $243,000 were submitted between October 2018 and February 2020 by the Integrated Alliance for Managed Healthcare, a company owned by Ford. A co-conspirator in the case, who later pleaded guilty, along with Ford, claimed that it was on account of mental health services that were being provided to 73 beneficiaries through phone appointments. The full scope of the nationwide sweep just a few months back in which 345 people were charged was a staggering $6 billion, with telemedicine contributing 75% of the amount.
The reason for the probe that was initiated in August 2018 by FBI and US Postal Inspection Service agents, has not been specified, as per the federal complaint. During the investigations, a mention of Ford confessing to stealing money from a client was made by Ford’s longtime girlfriend. She also said that he had once “jumped his fence to avoid federal investigators knocking on his door.”
Ford admitted to using a copy of the client’s signature retained on his tablet to transfer money to his own account, in an interview with investigators in 2019, though he had disguised the nature of the transfer by saying that it was an investment by the client into another business he owned, outside of New York Life.
The filing noted that “This case has cost [the] defendant a 30-year career in finance. Once recognized in his community for his charitable work; he has now been labeled a financial predator by the government.”
Ford, though, seems unrepentant, alleging that false, contradictory evidence had been provided by the victim, witnesses as well as investigators, in court motions for dismissal of charges, and handwritten letters from the Albemarle District Jail in Elizabeth City.
In a motion in January, he even accused the government of “error in the grand jury proceeding, prosecutorial misconduct, and insufficiency of the indictment and constitutional violations.” The motion was thrown out by district judge Louise Wood Flanagan in a week.
Ahead of the Medicare fraud trial that is pending and sentencing for the current conviction which carries a maximum term of 37 years in prison, Ford remains incarcerated. The attorney representing him in both cases, Thomas Reston Wilson, has not responded to requests for comments.
Sentencing in the case is slated for the court term starting 3rd August.