AGOODRICH (CCN) — A Goodrich man has reached a plea deal with the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office in one of the worst elder abuse cases Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell says he has ever seen.
Sheriff Pickell called it a "Bernie Madoff type ponzi scheme" after a raid on Atlas Valley Country Club last year led to multiple felony charges against Jason Bescoe. The Goodrich man was a Grand Blanc Township financial planner who admitted in court Monday to stealing funds from three of his elderly clients to buy expensive cars, fund lavish vacations and to finance his purchases of a luxury home, race horses and two country clubs.
The plea deal calls for five years probation if Bescoe pays restitution of $2.5 million to three elderly clients. They range in age from 85 to 93.
Bescoe was ordered to pay $1,222,575.30 to one couple, $908,222.10 to a second couple and $353,887.09 to another couple. He agreed not to provide any investment advising in his own name or for any other financial adviser firm and to liquidate all assets to pay his victims their full investments. Bescoe also admitted to Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Richard Yuille that he gave the victims statements that falsely indicated that their original investments had increased substantially.
Bescoe had already made restitution of about $300,000 in an earlier case where a preliminary exam was delayed when defense attorney Michael Manley withdrew from the case after initially representing Bescoe. The original charge was dismissed as part of Monday's plea deal on the two newest charges.
"I'm okay with it if the victims are okay with it," Sheriff Pickell said. "You're not talking about 200 bucks, you're talking two million. He already gave $300,000 back to another family.... he has agreed to do it here and he did it in that case, so I am hopefully they can get their money back. That's the most important thing to me."
An attorney for Bescoe (Phillip Beauvais) asked for his client to be released Monday after appearing before Judge Yuille to enter a guilty plea on two felony embezzlement over $100,000 charges in exchange for one other felony embezzlement charge to be dropped along with another felony charge for witness tampering. Bescoe was facing up to 20 years in prison, if convicted on the more serious charges.
"We would like to talk about bail so that my client can get going on getting restitution made to the victims," Beauvais said.
Judge Yuille denied Beauvais' request to release Bescoe Monday and sent him back to the Genesee County Jail until a sentencing date of Nov. 19. Judge Yuille had ordered Bescoe held two weeks ago on a $2.7 million bond.
"He belongs in prison but the victims want their money back and if the prosecutor thinks this is the best way to get them restitution, and they're okay with it, I'm okay with it," Sheriff Pickell said.
Prosecutor David Leyton was in court to watch Monday's proceedings and said, "We met with the victims for their input and it was agreed that this was the best resolution for them to have any chance at getting their money back. We believe we have a better chance of getting more money back (for the victims) if he doesn't go to prison if he knows he's going to prison if he doesn't help us track down as much money as possible."
Prosecutor Leyton said Bescoe risks going to prison if it's later determined that he's not "acting in good faith" to help recover money for the victims.
Prosecutor Leyton was not aware that Bescoe's wife filed for divorce on Friday, according to a Genesee County Circuit Court filing. Atlas Valley Country Club was also transferred out of Bescoe's name and into his wife's name last week. He bought Atlas Valley in 2016 on a land contract from the Hendrickson family who had owned the country club property for more than six decades.
Bescoe also owns Fountains Pointe which is another country club in Clarkston but his license for a financial planning business was revoked by the state's Licensing and Regulatory Affairs division after the initial felony charge was filed last year.