- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - An insurance salesman whose license was revoked for defrauding elderly clients is now facing charges that he stole the $305,000 life savings of a 90-year-old family friend, state authorities said Monday.

Robert Berlin faces several counts in an indictment recently handed up by a state grand jury and made public on Monday.

The state attorney general’s office says the 46-year-old Englishtown man’s insurance license was revoked for defrauding elderly clients in 2008. He then opened a physical fitness center but continued to manage the assets of the elderly Toms River woman, whom he had sold annuities to years before.

After the woman’s daughter died in 2010, prosecutors say Berlin helped the woman’s extended family place her in a private assisted living facility and continued to oversee her financial assets.

Berlin then allegedly used his position as financial adviser to systematically liquidate nearly $195,000 from the woman’s annuity funds and sell nearly $111,000 worth of her stocks over a four-year period, pocketing the money for himself.

He also allegedly used the woman’s bankcard for at least $7,000 in personal purchases, including airline tickets, pet care, and gymnastic classes and after-school activities for his children. The indictment also charges him with passing a $13,000 bad check to pay the assisted living facility where the woman lived before she was evicted for non-payment.

The indictment also charges Berlin with bilking a Toms River couple out of $50,000 they loaned him for renovations at his physical fitness center. Berlin, who met the couple through the elderly woman, allegedly obtained the loan under false pretenses and never repaid it.

The charges against Berlin include two counts each of theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception. Prosecutors said they did not have a record of him retaining an attorney who could comment on the charges. He could face up to 50 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

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