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Former Baton Rouge resident Milton Windsor Harris, who once faked his death, was back in the city Friday after an absence of 16 years.

Harris became a federal fugitive in February 1995 rather than face allegations that he failed to comply with the terms of a five-year probation period that followed a five-year prison term for defrauding Prudential Life Insurance Company of America of $516,596. He had pleaded guilty to mail fraud and obstruction of justice in the case.

Harris was apprehended in Northern Ireland earlier this year, flown to New Jersey and then transferred to Baton Rouge late last month.

The 1989 indictment said Harris faked his accidental drowning death in New Zealand four years earlier.

Harris’ beneficiaries then collected the $516,596 in life insurance proceeds from Prudential, the indictment stated. Sheila D. Fowler Harris, the admitted faker’s purported widow, also attempted to collect on more than $1.8 million in life insurance from Lloyd’s of London, according to records of a civil suit.

In 1990, Sheila Harris was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John V. Parker to a prison term of five years for knowingly participating in the mail fraud scheme and receiving the majority of the life insurance proceeds from Prudential.

On Friday, Milton Harris was not represented by a Baton Rouge criminal defense attorney.  He will most likely receive a court-appointed attorney for future hearings.

In Louisiana, bank fraud is when whoever knowingly executes, or attempts to execute, a scheme or artifice to do any of the following shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than ten years, or may be fined not more than one hundred thousand dollars, or both:

(1) To defraud a financial institution.

(2) To obtain any of the monies, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by or under the custody or control of a financial institution by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, practices, transactions, representations, or promises.

If you or someone you know has been charged with fraud or other white-collar crimes, contact Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Lawyer Carl Barkemeyer by visiting

Source: The Advocate, “Insurance fraud fugitive held in BR,” December 3, 2011.


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