Ex-AIG adviser who practiced voodoo on victims gets 12 years for fraud

Former rep also allegedly paid psychic for readings in jail

Sep 13, 2009 @ 12:01 am

By Bruce Kelly

A Tennessee representative formerly affiliated with AIG Financial Advisors Inc. spent time making voodoo dolls of his victims to ward off their damaging testimony, prosecutors said.

Barry R. Stokes last year pleaded guilty to multiple counts of embezzlement, money laundering and mail and wire fraud in connection with stealing $19 million from some 35,000 victims nationwide, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Nashville, Tenn., from their 401(k), health savings, and dependent-care accounts.

On Sept. 4, Mr. Stokes, 52, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Nashville to 12 years in prison after a hearing that presented evidence of his bizarre practices, according to reports in The Tennessean newspaper.

At a pre-sentencing hearing Sept. 3, prosecutors also said that he paid a psychic with a credit card to give him readings while in jail, according to The Tennessean.

Mr. Stokes also wrote a letter to the psychic saying that he was lighting candles and throwing salt over his shoulder to keep critics and creditors at bay, according to the report.

He was registered with AIG Financial Advisors from October 2005 to September 2006, at which point his fraud was discovered and he was fired, according to brokerage records on file with the states where he was licensed to do business.

AIG Financial Advisors was renamed SagePoint Financial Inc. this year, months after its parent, American International Group Inc., collapsed in the credit crisis and got an $85 billion bailout from the federal government.

From October 2001 to 2005, Mr. Stokes was licensed with Spelman & Co. Inc., another independent broker-dealer owned by AIG that was merged with AIG Financial Advisors.

According to his brokerage records, Spelman hired him after he had been let go by two other broker-dealers, with one firm stating that he in 2000 failed to cooperate with an internal investigation.

Mr. Stokes' firm, 1Point Solutions, was an employee benefits administration company.

Evelyn Curran, an AIG spokeswoman, said that the company declined to comment about the matter.

E-mail Bruce Kelly at bkelly@investmentnews.com.

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