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Advisor Accused of Mishandling Dead Client’s $3M Trust

August 27, 2018

A Wisconsin investment advisor is on the hook for $300,000 in legal fees from charities that say he mishandled a trust that had collectively left them more than $3 million, the Wausau Daily Herald, part of the USA Today network, writes.

Thomas Batterman of Wasau faces accusations of defrauding the charities, conspiring with his fiancée to overcharge the trust fund he was administering, and several breaches of trust, according to the paper.

Batterman, founder and managing principal of advice firm Financial Fiduciaries, as well as founder and head of Vigil Asset Management Group, allegedly mishandled the $3 million that his client Joe Geisler, who died in 2014, left to four charities, according to a lawsuit filed in Marathon County cited by the Wausau Daily Herald. Geisler had appointed Vigil as the successor trustee, according to the paper.

Close to a year after Geisler’s death, only $80,000 had been distributed, the Wausau Daily Herald writes. The suit alleges that Batterman and his fiancée, Deborah Richards, who was a regional manager for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, one of the charities in Geisler’s will, arranged to dole out the money to her employer gradually rather than gift the full $750,000 in one year, according to the paper. As a result, Batterman allegedly collected around $30,000 from monthly fees from the trust from the time of Geisler’s death to November 2015, when Batterman and Vigil were removed as trustees by the order of Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Michael Moran, the Wausau Daily Herald writes.

Three of the four charities in Geisler’s will — the Superior Diocese of the Catholic Church, Bruce High School in northwestern Wisconsin and the Alzheimer’s Association — have each so far received $675,000, according to the paper. But legal fees the charities accumulated during litigation over the funds mean that they missed out on part of the $750,000 each they were left, according to their suit cited by the Wausau Daily Herald. The American Cancer Society received a total of $675,000, the paper writes.

Batterman has not consented to an interview to USA Today on Geisler’s trust case, the paper writes.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Wausau Daily Herald article cited in this story, click here.