Kenai doctor charged with fraud, laundering

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2003

A Kenai physician was arraigned Monday on fraud and money laundering charges in federal district court in Anchorage.

Dr. Elisabeth Cole, 56, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday with wire and credit card fraud, financial institution fraud and money laundering for allegedly transferring approximately $3.5 million belonging to her mother, Madeleine Cole, to offshore companies set up in the Turks and Caicos Islands shortly before her mother died.

Dr. Cole then allegedly laundered the transferred assets through a series of financial transactions, and unlawfully obtained other assets belonging to her mother by forging checks and credit-card charges before and after her mother's death.

If convicted of the wire fraud charge, Dr. Cole could be imprisoned for up to 20 years and fined up to $250,000. Each of 26 counts of financial institution fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The credit-card and money-laundering charges each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The 46-count indictment spells out details of Dr. Cole's alleged scheme.

It states that in May 1998, Madeleine Cole moved from New York City to Anchorage and moved in with her only child, Elisabeth Anne Cole, and opened an account in Madeleine Cole's name only at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union.

On July 28 of the same year, Elisabeth Cole formed a corporation named Gimerc Ltd., governed under the laws of Turks and Caicos Islands, naming Madeleine and Elisabeth Cole as the guarantor members.

Three days later, Madeleine Cole executed a will in Anchorage, providing her daughter with an annual distribution for the rest of her life and providing that upon the death of Elisabeth Cole, the remaining assets would be distributed to the World Wildlife Fund and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

On Sept. 9, 1998, Madeleine Cole sold her New York City apartment for $4 million and Sept. 14, she deposited $400,000 in the Alaska USA credit union account and bought a certificate of deposit at National Bank of Alaska in the amount of $3.3 million.

On Nov. 25, 1998, Elisabeth Cole opened a financial account for Gimerc Ltd., at Barclay's Bank on the Isle of Man, and on Dec. 7, 1998, she allegedly made a wire transfer of $3 million from the certificate of deposit account to the Barclay's Bank account.

Madeleine Cole died in Anchor-age on Dec. 23, 1998.

On Feb. 19, 1999, Elisabeth Cole caused herself to be named sole guarantor member of Iston Investments Ltd., a corporation governed under the laws of Turks and Caicos Islands, and on April 16, opened an account for Iston Investments Ltd. at Barclay's Bank on the Isle of Man.

Ten days later, Elisabeth Cole allegedly transferred $3 million from the Gimerc Ltd. Barclay's Bank account to the Iston Investments Ltd. Barclay's account.

The federal grand jury charges that from June 1998 to March 1999, Elisabeth Cole created a scheme to defraud Madeleine Cole and her estate and "to obtain money and property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses and representations."

The indictment alleges that Elisabeth Cole formed the two offshore companies and had $3.5 million transferred to them, forged her mother's name on more than two dozen checks written on her mother's Alaska USA credit union account and used her mother's credit cards, forging her mother's signature.

In all, Elisabeth Cole allegedly defrauded her mother and her mother's estate of $4.2 million.

According to the U.S. Attorn-ey's Office, the indictment is the result of a lengthy investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

Dr. Cole was in custody Tuesday in the Anchorage Jail.

A person who answered the phone at Dr. Cole's Kenai office Tuesday said she had nothing to say about the charges. The office is at 11568 Kenai Spur Highway.

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