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Published: Friday, 6/20/2003

Frankel aide gets 10 years for insurance fraud


NEW HAVEN, Conn. - An accountant from Tennessee was sentenced yesterday to more than 10 years in prison for his role in former financier and Toledo native Martin Frankel's scheme to defraud insurance companies out of over $200 million.

Gary Atnip, 51, had pleaded guilty in December to federal money laundering and conspiracy charges in helping Frankel defraud insurance companies in five states.

“I'm sorry for my poor judgment and the decisions I made,” Atnip said before he was sentenced. “I accept responsibility for my actions.”

Atnip acted as the chief financial officer of various insurance companies acquired by Frankel from 1991 to 1999.

Senior U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns sentenced Atnip to 121 months in prison, three years probation, and ordered him to make restitution of $208 million.

He is to be sentenced later this month on state charges in Mississippi and Tennessee, and has civil charges pending. His wife, Elenore, pleaded with the judge for leniency.

“My husband was duped,” she said. However, the judge said that he still played a major role in the fraud cases.

“Mr. Frankel, no question, was the mastermind of this unfortunate situation, but Mr. Atnip played a role in that,” the judge said.

Atnip admitted helping transfer $200 million from insurance companies to Frankel's control. The money eventually ended up in Frankel's private Swiss bank accounts, prosecutors said. He also admitted he concealed Frankel's involvement from federal and state regulators.

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