Former insurance agent sentenced for stealing $500K
Patsy Ritchey plead guilty to stealing from clients and Greater La Vernia Chamber of Commerce
WILSON COUNTY, TEXAS – A former insurance agent and treasurer for the greater La Vernia Chamber of Commerce plead guilty Wednesday to stealing more than $500,000 from her clients and the chamber.
Patsy Ritchey was sentenced to 28 years in prison under a plea deal with the Wilson County district attorney.
Several of Ritchey's victims were in the courtroom to witness her sentencing, including Debbie Boudreau, a longtime friend who was also a victim.
"Patsy Ritchey and I had been friends for over 30 years," Boudreau said. "We raised our children together, we celebrated many birthdays and Christmases together. She was there when my dad was diagnosed with cancer. They were there on my mom and dad's 50th wedding anniversary. They were there at my dad's funeral, so we go back a long ways."
Boudreau said she thought she knew everything there was to know about her close friend until she received a disturbing call in April 2013.
"I was told that there was some stuff that was going down and that I needed to get a hold of Patsy because they thought that maybe some money we had invested was no longer there," Boudreau said.
Boudreau and her husband gave Ritchey more than $10,000 to purchase an annuity through her Farmer's Insurance agency in La Vernia.
Bourdrea had also convinced one of her aunts and her mother to invest with Ritchey for a combined $240,000.
With allegations swirling that Ritchey was under investigation for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from her clients and the Chamber of Commerce, Boudreau called Ritchey and was shocked when she admitted it was all true.
"When I found out that my mother's $180,000 was gone I thought I was going to have a heart attack, I thought I was going to go crazy," Boudreau said. "I had to call my mom and let her know that money I thought she should invest was gone."
Sixteen months later Boudreau and some of the other victims faced Ritchey in court for the first time Wednesday.
"She did look at me and tell me she was sorry but she was smiling sometimes and that really bothered me," Boudreau said. "So I asked some of the other victims that were there, I said, 'Do you think she's remorseful?'"
Boudreau is still coming to terms with her friend's betrayal but hopes to one day find forgiveness.
"Will I forget this? No. And in order for me to move on I have to forgive her and the good Lord will help me," Boudreau said.
Ritchey pleaded guilty to stealing $510,000 but sources said she's likely responsible for taking more than $2 million.
While Wednesday's plea deal and sentencing end the criminal case against Ritchey, it has not ended the financial nightmare for some of her victims.
The Boudreaus have sued Ritchey and Farmer's Financial Solutions to recoup the money they lost, plus damages.
Ritchey will be eligible for parole after serving a minimum of five years of her 28-year sentence.
Pictures courtsey of Wilson County News and Mary Bratten
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