- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - A fugitive convicted in a $1.9 billion corporate fraud scheme put aside almost $400,000 in a bank account before she disappeared, money her trial attorney said he knew nothing about.

Rebecca Parrett, who has been on the lam nearly a year, gave the money to another attorney after removing it from an escrow account, according to federal court documents. But on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley said the funds should be seized from an Arizona bank account used by Parrett, 60, a former executive with National Century Financial Enterprises.

The government could use the money to provide restitution to investors who lost money.

Parrett, who will be sentenced Friday in absentia, faces up to 60 years in prison. She disappeared last March after her conviction on 13 counts of securities and wire fraud and money laundering while she worked for National Century in suburban Columbus. Prosecutors likened the fraud, which involved misleading investors and fabricating data, to the Enron or WorldCom scandals.

Arizona attorney Seymour Sacks told the U.S. marshals that Parrett had given him $350,000 from an escrow account, the warrant said. Sacks said he refused to turn the money over to Parrett’s husband and son when they requested it after she disappeared, according to the warrant.

Gregory Peterson, who represented Parrett at trial, said he only learned of the money’s existence after his client disappeared.

“I was not aware of any money she had anywhere,” Peterson said Monday, repeating that he didn’t know where his client was.

Parrett’s sentencing in absentia will come a few hours before Marbley sentences Lance Poulsen, National Century’s founder and former chief executive.

The sentencings are the latest chapter in the downfall of what was once the country’s largest health care financing company. Since the FBI raided its offices in 2002, at least nine former executives have been convicted of corporate fraud.

At its height the company employed more than 300 people, most of them in the Columbus area. Executives made millions, with Poulsen alone earning more than $9.1 million between 1996 and 2002, according to the government.

National Century offered financing to small hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers by purchasing their accounts receivable, usually for 80 or 90 cents on the dollar, so they wouldn’t have to wait for insurance payments. National Century then collected the full amount of the payments.

The company raised the money to fund its business by selling bonds to investors. It declared bankruptcy in 2002 after the FBI raid.

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