Tuesday, June 25, 2013
A former Bel Aire insurance agent has been indicted in federal court in Wichita with stealing nearly $2 million from his clients.
Jason Matthew Pennington, 41, is charged with 51 counts, including wire fraud and attempted wire fraud, money laundering, attempted bank fraud and making false statements to a financial institution.
One of Pennington’s victims was Marlene Brown who spent 37 years working for Wichita Public Schools where she served as teacher, coach and school administrator. She endowed the Marlene M. Brown Fund for the Department of Counseling, Leadership, Educational and School Psychology in the College of Education at Wichita State University.
The indictment alleges that before Brown passed away in October 2009 she purchased a life insurance policy from State Farm through Jason Pennington worth more than $1.3 million. She designated the Marlene M. Brown Revocable Trust as the owner and beneficiary of the policy.
In November 2008 Pennington took more than $99,484 in cash from the policy. He deposited the money into his State Farm account at Home Bank & Trust Company in Wichita, and used the money to pay his personal expenses. In March 2009 Pennington signed a contract to build a $590,000 home in Bel Aire. By the time the house was completed in 2010, it cost approximately $650,000.
In loan application papers, Pennington did not disclose that he was required to make monthly child support and alimony payments and that he had a line of credit and a mortgage. He also claimed Brown's individual retirement account as his own.
In June 2009, Personal Property Memoranda were purportedly created and signed by Brown allocating the percentages her charitable beneficiaries would receive and another bequeathing the remaining money to Pennington and his family and associates. Included was a bequeath of more than $1 million to Pennington.
In the following months, Pennington took money from Brown’s policy and changed the address on Brown’s insurance policy from Brown’s address to his own business address in Wichita.
After Brown died in October 2009, Pennington took several bags of documents from her home. He then lied to trust beneficiaries and provided them with false documents to cover up that he had taken the bulk of her estate for himself. He told beneficiaries that Brown’s 2002 Lincoln LS automobile had been given to a single mother. He had actually given it to his father. He told beneficiaries that two television sets belonging to Brown were given to a young family, when he had actually also given them to his father.
He told beneficiaries that a baseball autographed by members of the New York Yankees would be given to Brown’s physician, but Brown actually planned to keep the ball. He also told beneficiaries that some of Brown’s estate was going to the Kansas Humane Society, but the organization received nothing.
He told beneficiaries that part of Brown’s estate was going to Wichita State University. In fact, WSU also received nothing. Other victims included a couple from Garden Plain, Kan., who purchased a life insurance policy valued at more than $3.4 million through Pennington. Pennington fraudulently processed more than $1 million worth of loan requests even though the couple was not aware the loans were being applied for in their names.
Pennington’s father, James L. Pennington, 65, of Wichita, is also charged with four counts of filing false tax returns.