A former financial advisor will spend life in prison for his role in a fraud that ended in the murder of a client and attempting to stage it as a suicide in order to collect on a life insurance policy.
Keith Todd Ashley, a Texas-based former advisor, registered nurse and brewery owner, was convicted of wire, mail and bank fraud and “carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence” after a one-week jury trial last October. On Thursday, he was sentenced to life by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant. Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Chad Yarbough said he hoped the sentence would provide healing for those who were “forever impacted by the greed and deceit” of Ashley.
“Keith Ashley funded his lavish lifestyle and attempted to rescue his failing business by robbing his clients of financial security, and when that wasn’t enough, he robbed one of his life,” Yarbough said.
Ashley worked for about 18 years as a financial advisor with Parkland Securities, according to his BrokerCheck profile, though he was fired in 2020 and was later barred by FINRA after his conviction last year.
Starting in 2016, Ashley began stealing money from clients by promising them he would invest their funds in unit investment trusts with guaranteed returns, according to the DOJ indictment.
Instead, he passed the money to other clients in a Ponzi-like fashion, used it to pay personal bills and casino, credit card, mortgage, student loan and college tuition payments, and to keep his flailing brewery business afloat. By the end, Ashley had raised more than $1.3 million in investor funds.
One of the affected clients (unnamed by the DOJ) was James Seegan, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Ashley began transferring money out of Seegan’s personal accounts into his own, and changing the beneficiary of Seegan’s life insurance policy into a trust Ashley controlled.
On Feb. 19, 2020, Seegan was found dead in his home of a gunshot wound, with a typed suicide note indicating that Ashley would “help” Seegan’s wife after his death, according to the Star-Telegram.
But some things didn’t add up for police, for example a handgun was found in Seegan’s left hand, though his wife told authorities he was right-handed. Police then found video footage showing Ashley had visited Seegan’s house that day, leaving after an hour and returning only a few minutes later.
Police believed Ashley had been the only person to visit the house until Seegan’s wife found her husband’s body later that day, according to the Star-Telegram. Police ran drug tests on Seegan and learned he had an anesthetic agent in his system that can be used to quickly knock someone out.
Police eventually determined Ashley killed Seegan and staged the suicide, according to the Star-Telegram. But even after Seegan’s death, Ashley tried to collect on the life insurance policy, going as far as to trying to get a copy of Seegan’s autopsy report, according to the DOJ.