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Financier Martin Frankel has been sentenced to almost 17 years in federal prison for embezzling funds from 7 insurance companies he controlled.

More than 20 charges were lodged against Frankel, including conspiracy, racketeering and wire fraud, by the U.S. attorney in Connecticut.

A group of 5 state regulators said Frankel conspired to defraud policyholders of the 7 companies, including Franklin Protective Life Insurance Company, Franklin, Tenn., and Family Guaranty Life Insurance Company and First National Life Insurance Company of America, both of Jackson, Miss.

Frankel disappeared in May 1999 after insurance officials in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Missouri asked his insurance companies to explain the whereabouts of more than $200 million in missing assets. The companies, which mostly sold funeral policies to low-income people, were controlled by the Thunor Trust, a holding company owned by Frankel.

In September 1999, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut announced that German authorities had captured the missing financier at a posh Hamburg hotel. The U.S. attorney then had the financier extradited.

Frankel pleaded guilty in May 2002 to 24 federal counts of wrongdoing at the U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn. Earlier this month, the court sentenced him to serve 16 years and 8 months.

The sentence was imposed a day after the IRS auctioned off 800 diamonds seized from Frankel following his arrest in 1999 in Germany.

That auction raised about $9 million, according to the U.S. attorneys office in New Haven.

Other assets belonging to Frankel already auctioned off include 21 luxury sedans and SUVs and a Harley Davidson motorcycle, which sold for a total of $757,000. His 2 mansions in Greenwich, Conn., raised another $5.2 million, the IRS says.

All told, about $60 million of the $200 million was recovered, the U.S. attorneys office says.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, December 16, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.