Angel Fontaina, 45, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by deception in the scam that virtually drained his mother’s two fixed annuity accounts with New York Life Insurance Company. Fontaina entered his plea in a hearing before Judge Mitzy Galis-Menendez in Hudson County Superior Court.
The state will recommend a seven-year-prison term when Fontaina is sentenced on August 19. As part of his sentencing, Fontaina will be ordered to pay $225,927 in restitution to his mother.
“Angel Fontaina helped himself to his own mother’s hard-earned savings and defrauded her insurance company,” said Acting Attorney General Porrino. “This defendant’s greed appropriately landed him in jail.”
“He all but wiped out the money his mother needed to support herself in her old age,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu. “The significant prison sentence Angel Fontaina will serve is just punishment for such despicable behavior.”
In pleading guilty, Fontaina admitted he siphoned money from his mother’s accounts in a series of 10 withdrawals between June 2014 and October 2014. The first withdrawal of $35,000 was made by submitting a fraudulent withdrawal form to the New York Life office. The other nine withdrawals – which ranged from $10,001 to $32,258 – were made via phone calls in which Fontaina pretended to be his mother. The 10 withdrawals totaled $225,927 and the money was directly deposited into Fontaina’s bank account.
New York Life initiated an investigation into the series of suspicious withdrawals, and then referred the case to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor after discovering Fontaina withdrew the money without his mother’s knowledge or consent. When confronted, Fontaina promised to return the money to the accounts but the check he wrote to return the money was bad.
Deputy Attorneys General Michael Clore and Michael Farmer are representing the state in this matter. Detective Taryn Seidner coordinated the investigation with assistance from Detectives Natalie Brotherston, Matthew Armstrong, and Ryan Kirsh. Investigators Richard Matarante and Ching Graham from New York Life Insurance Company assisted in the investigation.
Ryan Kurtz of the Hudson County Public Defender’s Office represented Fontaina at the plea hearing.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Iu noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.