(NEW YORK) — Robert Bales, the staff sergeant accused of massacring Afghan civilians, enlisted in the U.S. Army at the same time he was trying to avoid answering allegations he defrauded an elderly Ohio couple of their life savings in a stock fraud, according to federal documents reviewed by ABC News.
“He robbed me of my life savings,” Gary Liebschner of Carroll, Ohio, told ABC News.
Financial regulators found that Bales “engaged in fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, unauthorized trading and unsuitable investments,” according to a report on Bales filed in 2003. Bales and his associates were ordered to pay Liebschner $1,274,000 in compensatory and punitive damages but have yet to do so, according to Liebschner.
“We didn’t know where he was,” Liebschner told ABC News. “We heard the Bahamas, and all kinds of places.”
Liebschner says he recognized Bales after news reports named him as the American soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a shooting rampage.
Liebschner filed a complaint against Bales in May 2000, claiming Bales took his life savings of $852,000 in AT&T stock and through a series of trades reduced its value to nothing.
The Ohio retiree recalled Bales as a “smooth talker.” Asked if he regarded Bales as a con man, Liebschner said, “You’ve hit the nail on the head.”
At the time, Bales worked for an Ohio brokerage firm, MPI.
According to federal documents, Bales failed to appear at an arbitration hearing to resolve Liebschner’s complaint.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Madison Park, Keith Allen and Andreas Preuss, CNN
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Julia Horowitz, CNN