Advisor Faces 30 Years in Prison For Defrauding Retiree

A former Suntrust and M&T Securities advisor faces 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to defrauding an elderly client of more than $1 million over the course of nearly 20 years.

Eddy Blizzard pleaded guilty in Maryland federal court to bank fraud on Tuesday, in connection with the scheme targeting an unnamed client who is identified by the initials ‘R.M.’ in the plea agreement. 

Blizzard first entered the industry in 2001, with short stints at UBS and Allfirst Brokerage before joining M&T Securities in 2003. He worked there for 11 years before departing for Suntrust. He was fired in 2017 for not following procedures “related to trade execution and error reporting,” according to BrokerCheck.

Starting in 1963, R.M. began work at a Baltimore-based commercial air conditioning company, according to the Justice Department. He was able to do this despite being unable to read or write and worked as an AC technician by memorizing figures and visually understanding the work. 

R.M. declined numerous promotions to supervisory positions at the company because of his illiteracy, instead remaining a technician. He often worked about 30 hours overtime weekly to make extra money. 

After four decades with the company, R.M. took a buyout and retired in 2003. He sought out an advisor at his bank, Suntrust, so he could invest his retirement funds to create an inheritance for his grandchildren. Blizzard began working at Suntrust soon after R.M. began investing with the bank and became R.M.’s advisor.

In 2005, Blizzard told R.M. that he’d begun working as an independent financial advisor and asked R.M. if he’d like to leave Suntrust and work solely with Blizzard (though the advisor actually hadn’t gone independent). Blizzard said he’d continue working out of the bank’s branch in Catonsville, Md. 

But when R.M. met him there about once a month, Blizzard would meet with him in Blizzard’s car, not the office. This strange arrangement continued for several years with no explanation.

Soon after, Blizzard began asking R.M. for blank checks, and R.M. remembered giving him as many as 20 checks. Blizzard would fill in the remaining information, and when R.M. got canceled checks in the mail, he’d recognize Blizzard’s handwriting.

On numerous occasions, R.M. would go to his bank to withdraw money and learn there weren’t enough funds in his account. After calling Blizzard, the advisor would tell him to wait a day or two and there’d be money available, but he didn’t explain why there were no funds there in the first place. 

R.M. continued to trust Blizzard, believing his retirement funds were in safe hands, and that Blizzard was handling payments on R.M.’s mortgage. But in August 2019, things came to a head, according to the DOJ. R.M. was planning a family vacation and tried to withdraw funds, only to again learn there wasn’t any money in the account. 

R.M. tried to reach Blizzard with no response for a week. He eventually went to the advisor’s home, knocking on his front and back door. No one came to the door, but Blizzard left a voicemail while R.M. was there, telling him neighbors alerted him about the loud knocking. Blizzard said all of R.M.’s money was gone and Blizzard had tried to kill himself and was currently hospitalized. 

The following month, after R.M.’s son reached out to Blizzard’s wife on social media asking about R.M.’s savings, Blizzard contacted the client’s son, telling him he’d tried to kill himself because he made bad investments that cost R.M. his savings.

But this claim wasn’t true; in the plea agreement, Blizzard admitted he hadn’t tried to kill himself and was never hospitalized.

In reality, Blizzard had been withdrawing money from R.M.’s funds to use for his own purposes, including “property taxes, construction, boat payments and down payments for a new house,” according to the DOJ.  

Between January 2013 and August 2019, there were 242 distributions totaling $1.2 million from R.M.’s accounts, of which 129 were specifically requested, as opposed to regular annuity payments, putting about $1 million into R.M.’s bank account. 

From April 2016 to April 2019, Blizzard deposited 112 checks drawn from that account into a number of bank accounts held by Blizzard, whether on his own or jointly with his wife, and were written out to Blizzard or his spouse. 

At several points, Blizzard even stole R.M.’s Social Security income, which went directly into his checking account. R.M.’s home also went into foreclosure in the fall of 2019 because Blizzard had not been making the mortgage payments as he claimed. On March 20, 2020, R.M. died at the age of 75.

In addition to his potential prison sentence, Blizzard will be required to pay full restitution totaling more than $1.03 million. His sentencing is scheduled for April 30, 2024.

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