A dying mechanic wanted a few thousand dollars to leave to his wife, two sons and infant daughter. A politically connected millionaire, now running for Virginia governor, wanted to make some money. And a Rhode Island estate planner wanted to become ambassador to the Vatican.
All three came together on paper in late 2006 in a deal struck just two months before the 44-year-old mechanic died of cancer.
The mechanic got $5,000. The millionaire, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, made at least $47,000. But the estate planning lawyer, Joseph Caramadre, went to prison instead of Rome.
Caramadre helped McAuliffe place a bet on the dying man based on a loophole the estate planner had sniffed out in the fine print of insurance annuities. Although the loophole was legal, Caramadre has pleaded guilty to stealing the identities of the terminally ill as part of his scheme. He is in federal prison, awaiting sentencing.
But of course McAuliffe, canny businessman that he is, denies any specific knowledge of the deal.
“At the time that he invested, he was told Mr. Caramadre was a respected figure in his community and that he was led to believe that he was investing in a legitimate pooled annuity,” campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin said in an e-mail.
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