A Maryland advisor pleaded guilty yesterday to bilking roughly $1 million from an elderly client (now deceased) leaving him destitute and with his house in foreclosure, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland said.

In addition to the embezzlement, the advisor, Eddy Blizzard, 45, of Perry Hall, went so far as to fake a suicide attempt to garner sympathy when his scheme was discovered, the Department of Justice statement said.

Blizzard pleaded guilty to bank fraud and faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. As part of the plea deal, he will pay restitution of at least $1,030,000, plus $848,000 in the form of a money judgement, the statement said. Sentencing will be in April 2024.

According to the DOJ statement, the client, identified as “R.M.,” was 75 years old in January 2020 and had had a successful career installing commercial-grade air conditioners despite leaving school in the ninth grade and not being able to read or write. He often worked 15 to 30 hours overtime a week, and when he retired in 2003 he had more than $1 million in retirement savings at M&T Bank.

Six months after he retired, R.M. decided to invest his retirement funds to build a legacy for his grandchildren and went to M&T for assistance, which is how Blizzard became R.M.’s financial advisor, the statement said. According to BrokerCheck, Blizzard worked for M&T Securities from May 2003 to May 2014.

In 2005, Blizzard told R.M. he was striking out on his own as an independent advisor and asked R.M. if he wanted to go with him instead of staying at M&T. Blizzard said it would be a while before he had his own office so he would continue working out of M&T, the statement said.

Blizzard never made that jump, but from then on he met R.M. once a month—in Blizzard’s car. These car meetings lasted 30 minutes to 45 minutes, and this went on for several years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s statement.

During this time, Blizzard started draining R.M.’s accounts. He asked R.M. for signed, blank checks, which R.M. provided. In all, some 15 to 20 of these checks were handed over and Blizzard would periodically fill in the payee, amount, date and memo section. When R.M. received the canceled checks in the mail, he recognized Blizzard’s handwriting, but being illiterate had no idea what they were for.

“Blizzard used these checks for personal purposes, and not for any benefit of R.M.,” the DOJ’s statement said. “On approximately 12 different instances, R.M. went to his local bank to withdraw cash and was told there was not enough money in the account. R.M. would then call Blizzard to let him know about the deficiency. Blizzard then told R.M. to wait a day or two and there would be funds in the account to withdraw.”

Over the years, Blizzard led R.M. to believe his retirement funds were safely invested. He also told R.M. he was paying R.M.’s mortgage.

In August 2019, R.M. discovered the fraud when he went to his local M&T branch to withdraw funds for a family vacation. Following the discovery, he called Blizzard on his cell phone for about a week but got no response. He then went to Blizzard’s home. Blizzard did not respond to R.M.’s knocks, but did send a voicemail message admitting that R.M.’s money was gone and that Blizzard was hospitalized following a suicide attempt, the statement said.

He later told R.M.’s son that he lost the money in bad investments, but in his plea deal he admitted he never invested R.M.’s assets—he simply transferred the money to his own bank account to use it for his own purposes.

In all, from January 2013 to August 2019, Blizzard made 129 withdrawals worth $1.2 million and wrote 112 checks worth another $848,000 for such things as property taxes, construction, boat payments and down payments on a new house, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

What they did not include were the mortgage payments on R.M.’s house, and in the fall of 2019 his house was put into foreclosure. R.M. died on March 20, 2020.