Fort Worth

Fort Worth woman in federal prison on fraud charge

A former investment adviser who siphoned funds from her company’s inactive accounts, about half of which belonged to dead clients, is serving a sentence of a year and a day in federal prison, according to court documents.

Redonda Russell, 68, of Fort Worth pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in August and reported to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on Jan. 27 to begin serving her sentence.

Russell stole more than $316,000 from First Command Financial Services accounts, according to federal prosecutors.

A federal judge also ordered Russell to pay $316,000 in restitution and serve 36 months of supervised release.

Russell was employed at First Command for 22 years and worked for seven years as associate director of client services before leaving in 2013, prosecutors said.

On March 19, 2012, Russell asked First Command computer specialists to compile a list of clients with life insurance policies or investment accounts with balances greater than $2,000 who were also dead.

For more than a year, Russell obtained identifying information on 18 First Command clients, eight of whom were dead, court documents stated. After drafting documents that gave her control over the accounts, Russell got subordinates to validate the false documents with a medallion signature stamp, which is like an electronic signature and tends to draw less scrutiny because of its wide acceptance in the industry.

Russell mailed the fraudulent documents to the investment or insurance companies that maintained the accounts and gained control over them. Russell later sent the partner companies documentation that caused them to either liquidate or take out a loan against the targeted accounts, prosecutors said.

Russell took the proceeds from the account liquidations or loans and deposited the money into one of her personal accounts using different signatures, all of which included the last name Russell.

The maximum sentence for a wire fraud charge is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3