LINCOLN, Neb. — A Nebraska judge has sentenced a former insurance agent to at least six years in prison for bilking clients out of nearly $160,000, saying he felt “heartsick” for the victims.

The Lancaster County judge on Tuesday noted the seriousness of a felony theft by deception charge when deciding against probation for Raymond Sanchez Jr., the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Investigators alleged Sanchez’s clients in Lincoln gave him money to buy annuities, but that Sanchez instead deposited the money into his personal account.

Judy Quade-Anderson and her husband lost more than $40,000 in the scheme. She said she’s disappointed in the sentence because she was hoping for restitution.

“Him going to prison isn’t going to help me at all,” she said.

Quade-Anderson said she worked all her life to put away money for retirement. Now, her 73-year-old husband has to work longer than he should, she said.

“The decision today I think is harder on the people who lost the money, the victims,” she said.

Defense attorney Matthew Burns said Sanchez has already paid about $30,000 of the nearly $160,000 he stole. He said Sanchez eventually wants to pay it all back so he can face his victims again and ask for their forgiveness.

“He wants to make these people whole,” Burns said.

He said Sanchez had several personal issues in his life at the time of the scheme, including back taxes, a gambling addiction and alcohol abuse.

“I think from there it just spiraled out of control, and he just went down the rabbit hole so to speak,” Burns said.

Quade-Anderson said she understands the decision to imprison Sanchez but doubts other victims will be as accepting. She said she hopes Sanchez improves in prison, noting he’s “still a human being.”


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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