An Alabama representative of Omaha's Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society has pleaded guilty to stealing about $800,000 from investors he had pledged to help save money for retirement.
Scott Dees, 52, pleaded guilty this week in U.S. District Court in Mobile, Ala., to using the investors' money for gambling and medical bills, according to court documents. Dees has not been sentenced; the maximum jail term is 20 years, court papers say.
Woodmen spokeswoman Jill Regester said the company is “committed to working with law enforcement to ensure that Mr. Dees is brought to justice and is held accountable for his actions.”
Regester described the company as a “victim” of Dees' fraud; she declined to elaborate.
Dees, according to court papers, was an independent contractor of the company.
According to legal documents filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Mobile, “Approximately thirty investors in the Southern District of Alabama sent money to Dees for the purpose of having him invest the funds in a Woodmen of the World investment vehicle. However, rather than invest these funds as promised, Dees used the investors' money for gambling and to pay for his personal medical bills.”
Woodmen of the World, which employs about 575 people at its Omaha headquarters, is a financial services firm selling life insurance, annuities and mutual funds. The company has about 700,000 members nationwide. Founded in Omaha in 1890, the company is a fraternal benefit society, or nonprofit group organized for the benefit of members.
According to Dees' plea agreement, he represented Woodmen of the World from 2000 until 2011. He worked from an office in Monroeville, a city in south Alabama, according to online insurance and investment directories.
Dees told the judge at a hearing this week that he suffers from the early stages of liver failure, according to the Alabama news website al.com, which also reported that prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence below the maximum. Dees, al.com said, is expected to be ordered to pay restitution. The maximum fine, court papers say, is $250,000.