Phillip Roy Wasserman pleaded guilty to a tax charge Monday and will avoid a second trial in his $6.3 million fraud case.
Wasserman agreed to plead guilty to a single count of evasion of payment of income taxes and will be sentenced at a later date. According to Wasserman, the government made the plea offer and he took it in order to focus on overturning his fraud conviction.
In its indictment, the government claimed that Wasserman avoided taxes in the years 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009. After years of collection efforts, the Internal Revenue Service wrote off more than $800,000 in uncollected taxes, the indictment said.
Wasserman faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $100,000 fine on the tax charge.
Also Monday, Wasserman made his case for dismissal of fraud charges or a new trial during a five-hour evidentiary hearing in front of Judge Charlotte Edwards Honeywell.
Wasserman was convicted May 15 on nine felony counts. The three most serious – wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud – all carry maximum sentences of 20 years. The self-styled “Annuity King” in Florida promotions, Wasserman ran a fraud totaling $6.3 million, the government alleged, money it seeks to recover.
The government claims Wasserman, 66, with Kenneth Rossman, lied and concealed information to convince elderly victim-investors to put their money into Wasserman’s life insurance venture called, “FastLife.”
Wasserman, who is also an attorney, spent most of the evidentiary hearing questioning Dr. James Ballenger, an expert in the field of mental illness and bipolar disorder, and Adam Allen of the Federal Public Defender’s Office.
Wasserman accuses government prosecutor’s of hiding co-defendant Rossman’s bipolar disorder from the defense team, a violation of trial rules. Rossman also testified, but was questioned by William Sansone, standby counsel for Wasserman.
Despite facing a sentencing range of 30 to 37 months, Rossman was sentenced to probation in August. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and one count of “aiding and assisting the preparation and filing of fraud and false tax returns” in a plea deal with the federal government.
During the time Rossman joined Wasserman at FastLife – from August 2016 to January 2019 – he was “struggling with an untreated bipolar condition that caused him to become involved with high-risk behavior,” Rossman’s presentencing report states.
During the evidentiary hearing, Wasserman sought to establish that a bipolar illness could cause a person to act irrationally. He also questioned Allen, who began representing Rossman in mid-2020, on how much he knew and when he knew about his client’s condition. Allen testified that he inquired about getting Rossman medications for his mental illness in June 2022.
Honeywell set out a briefing schedule that ends in mid November. She expressed a desire to move forward with the frequently delayed case. Wasserman has been scheduled for sentencing twice – so far, both cancelled – with the government recommending a prison term of 324 to 405 months.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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