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Schmidt gets 3 years in Charter Group fraud


Former insurance executive Hamilton A. Schmidt was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison and five years on probation for the theft and fraudulent misappropriation of funds from Charter Group Inc., the defunct Towson insurance agency he had helped build into what was once one of Maryland's largest.

Schmidt, 41, was ordered to pay more than $231,000 in restitution to Charter, the company's stock option plan and the O'Conor Piper & Flynn health insurance group. About 100 workers lost their retirement savings after Schmidt vanished Sept. 14, 1993, and auditors discovered about $1 million missing from the company.

Before Schmidt resurfaced and surrendered to police 1 1/2 years later, Charter's assets were sold, the company went into bankruptcy and the employee stock-ownership plan collapsed.

Schmidt pleaded guilty to fraudulent misappropriation of $702,393.32 and the theft of $215,000 in December. In exchange, prosecutors, who could have sought up to 20 years in prison, asked the court to sentence Schmidt to a maximum of seven years in prison, with all but three years suspended, followed by five years of probation.

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