Ex-insurance agent gets life sentence for client theft

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PLAINVIEW, Texas (AP) — A former Lubbock insurance agent has been sentenced to life in prison for stealing money from some of his elderly clients.

Joseph Gaines was also ordered to pay back $810,000 he had taken from his victims.

He had pleaded guilty to an enhanced felony count of misapplication of fiduciary property of the elderly.

The Texas Department of Insurance's fraud unit found Gaines had persuaded senior citizens in West Texas to purchase annuities but kept the money for himself.

Authorities began investigating Gaines after a 94-year-old woman's family called an insurance company to confirm her $700,000 investment. They were told there was no policy in her name.

Gaines was charged with felonies in Swisher, Wilbarger, and Howard counties. Several of Gaines victims testified at his sentencing on Thursday in Swisher County.