MIAMI, FL – U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal has sentenced 61-year-old Michael Jerome Atkins, a former Florida resident, to five years in federal prison for defrauding a now 68-year-old former schoolteacher out of $425,447.14 — all of her retirement money. The judge also ordered Atkins to pay that amount back to his victim, as restitution.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
According to court records, Atkins and his victim met while the victim was working as a schoolteacher. Atkins convinced her to retire, drain from her retirement account all of the money she had saved during years of work, and invest that money into Atkins’ Fort Lauderdale-based company — All Points Aviation and Associates. Atkins promised the victim that he would use the money for his business and that he would repay her within two months. The victim agreed. In 2015, she directed her retirement account management company to disburse the money, which it did in three checks. Each check was made to the joint order of the victim and All Points Aviation and Associates. Without the victim’s authorization, Atkins had the largest check endorsed with the victim’s signature. All three checks were deposited into a bank account that he controlled. Atkins used the victim’s retirement money to pay for his own personal expenses and never repaid her. The retired schoolteacher had not heard from Atkins since 2016, when he left South Florida.
In March 2019, Atkins pled guilty to fraud and identity theft charges, admitting that he devised a scheme to defraud the victim of her entire retirement savings, over $400,000. FBI Miami investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Lois Foster-Steers prosecuted it.
Combatting elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is a key priority of the Department of Justice. The mission of the Department’s Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s seniors. To learn more visit https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice. The public is encouraged to report victimization and suspected fraud schemes by calling the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD 11 (1-833- 372-8311).
You may find related court documents and information on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case no. 18-cr-60207.