Central Florida Attorney who Defrauded Elderly Clients faces Mail Fraud Charges

Linda Vasquez Littlefield and Ross Littlefield

“A Kissimmee couple convicted in state court of defrauding elderly clients of their life savings agreed Wednesday to plead guilty to similar charges in federal court and could be sentenced to up to 10 years each in prison,” according to an Orlando Sentinel article by Susan Jacobson. On April 29, 2013, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida filed a formal criminal charge of mail fraud against disbarred-attorney Linda Vasquez Littlefield and her former husband, Ross Littlefield.

The former couple was previously prosecuted at the state-level for their victimization of only one of the many victimized elderly clients. In that case, Linda used the credit card of one of her clients suffering from Alzheimer to fund numerous personal expenses including furniture for her law office and a vacation to Cancun, Mexico. The lax prosecution by the State Attorney’s Office for the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida (the same office that tried Casey Anthony) resulted in both pleading no contest to fraud, probation for Ross, and a couple years of incarceration for Linda followed by probation.

Now, it appears that the Littlefields may be held accountable at the federal level for their victimization of dozens of other elderly clients. Prior to the former criminal charge, the Littlefields entered into separate plea agreements with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, both of which admitted guilt concerning the following facts:

Linda Littlefield formed The Littlefield Law Group, P.A. ("LLG") on November 9, 2004. The law group ultimately matured to specialize in Medicaid planning. On or about March 1, 2007, Ross Littlefield, Linda Littlefield, and others became the new directors of the JNN Foundation, Inc. In their correspondence, Ross Littlefield was listed as Executive Director and Linda Littlefield was listed as Senior Advisor.

The JNN Foundation established the JNN Special Needs Asset Preservation Pooled Trust. This kind of a trust is a so-called "pooled trust" or "non-profit association trust," which is established as a master trust by a non-profit organization which is responsible for its management. This type of trust lawfully shelters the assets belonging to the person, and will not affect the beneficiary's Medicaid or Social Security Income (SSI) eligibility as long as the trust is used for supplemental needs and not for support. In the trust, assets can be protected and the resources can be used to purchase exempt assets such as a motor vehicle or a home, to pay off debt, including mortgages and credit card debts, or to prepay bills. Once in the trust, it is also possible to enter into personal service contracts for a limited term or for life.

Between 2007 and 2010, Ross and Linda Littlefield induced approximately twenty six (26) clients to put over $4.7 million dollars into the JNN Foundation. Once the client funds were received by the JNN Foundation, Ross Littlefield and Linda Littlefield transferred, or caused to be transferred, approximately $1.5 million from the JNN Foundation's account at BB&T Bank to The Littlefield Law Group, Legacy Funeral Home and Cremation Services, and Kronic Entertainment accounts at BB&T Bank.

The funds wired from the JNN Foundation bank account were all derived from the client deposits, made under the guise of Medicaid Planning. However, these funds were solicited by the Littlefields under false pretenses. The clients' checks to Ross Littlefield and Linda Littlefield were to deposited into the JNN Foundation bank account at BB&T Bank, account xxxxxx9285, so they could qualify for Medicaid. After the funds were deposited, in violation of their position of trust, the Littlefields began transferring money to other accounts they controlled.

The Littlefields defrauded the vulnerable clients by not informing them that the money in the JNN Foundation was being "loaned" to the LLG and other entities. According to the pooled trust joinder agreement entered into by the clients and the LLG, the client acknowledged that all distributions were subject to the Trustee's sole and absolute discretion. However, according to the agreement, the Trustee (ie. the Littlefields) was required to make distributions solely for the client's needs and supplemental care. From the LLG account at BB&T Bank, the Littlefields funded various other businesses they owned, purchased property, paid their car payments, and funded a lifestyle beyond their ordinary means.

Each month, the clients of the JNN Foundation received a Quarterly Client Statement from the JNN Foundation in the mail. These quarterly statements detailed the activity of each of the clients including any expenses incurred by the client, interest earned for the quarter, any additional client deposits into the account, and the client's balance in the account. According to the general ledgers and the bank accounts of the JNN Foundation, as of June 14, 2010, the balance in their bank account at BB&T Bank was $321,155.06. This amount represented all the clients funds that the Littlefields had deposited since 2007 minus all the expenditures on behalf of the clients. An analysis was conducted using the JNN Foundation's general ledger, bank statements, and the clients' quarterly statements. From that analysis it was determined that the clients' balance should have been approximately $2.87 million. Neither Ross Littlefield or Linda Littlefield notified the clients that their money was being used for the benefit of the Littlefields to purchase property, vehicles, and make personal loans to their other business. From the records obtained and interviews of their clients, the Littlefields sent these quarterly statements to approximately twenty six (26) clients each quarter. Each quarterly statement falsely showed the client's balance because the Littlefields did not have the money in the bank accounts to cover all the client expenses.

Ross Littlefield would mail (or caused to be mailed) out, by U.S. mail, quarterly statements to each client supposedly reflecting the client's expenditures and their current balances. Ross Littlefield signed all of the quarterly statements that were mailed to the clients. Ross Littlefield used his own store, We-Pak You-Ship, to mail the statements out. Ross Littlefield knew that the sum of all the accounts of the client's quarterly statements greatly exceeded the amount of funds actually held in the pooled trust account.

Using funds derived from their mail fraud scheme, on or about March 28, 2008, Ross Littlefield purchased a cashier's check for $155,739.93 with funds from the JNN Foundation BB&T Bank account number xxxxxx9285. These funds were used as the down payment for Ross Littlefield and Linda Littlefield's purchase of the commercial building at 404 Broadway, Kissimmee. Ross Littlefield and Linda Littlefield personally purchased the building for a total cost of $850,000. The mortgage was signed by both Ross Littlefield and Linda Littlefield.

The actual loss is $2,897,604.49 to twenty six (26) victims.

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