CPA pleads guilty to defrauding elderly investors

 

Date: July 21, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Tampa, FL — Kenneth Murry Rossman of Bradenton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud and aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of a false income tax return. He faces a maximum penalty of eight years in federal prison.

According to the plea agreement, Rossman, a Florida certified public accountant and licensed insurance agent, conspired with Phillip Roy Wasserman, a former lawyer and licensed insurance agent, to defraud elderly victim-investors. The conspirators made false and fraudulent misrepresentations and concealed material information in order to convince elderly victim-investors to put their money into Wasserman's new insurance venture, "FastLife." Some victim-investors were persuaded to liquidate traditional investments, such as annuities, and/or to borrow funds against existing life insurance policies to generate cash to invest in the venture. These victim-investors were not told about surrender fees and other costs associated with the liquidations, and Rossman prepared income tax returns for victim-investors in a manner designed to conceal negative personal tax consequences that resulted from the liquidations from both the victim-investors and the Internal Revenue Service.

Victim-investors' money was used to perpetuate the fraud and for the conspirators' personal enrichment. Wasserman paid Rossman a percentage of the victim-investors' money as compensation for his role in the conspiracy. Wasserman also used victim-investors' money to make payments to earlier victim-investors in the FastLife venture, as well to as victim-investors in his earlier hedge fund and real estate fund ventures. Wasserman spent a significant amount of the victim-investors' money to finance a lavish lifestyle that included luxury residences, high-end vehicles, jet skis, jewelry, personal celebrity entertainment, gambling, retail shopping, home improvements, personal insurance, and many other expenses for his personal benefit and the benefit of family members.

The conspiracy resulted in victim-investors losing more than $6.3 million.

In November 2020, Wasserman was charged in a superseding indictment with filing false income tax returns, tax evasion, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, and substantive counts of wire fraud and mail fraud. His case is currently set for trial in December 2021.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rachelle DesVaux Bedke, David W.A. Chee, Colin P. McDonell, and Rachel Jones.