The trial of a Bonners Ferry man charged with nine felonies in Montana over allegations of malpractice as a financial advisor got underway in Libby Tuesday.
Kip Hartman, 35, was charged in June, 2019, with four counts of exploitation of an elderly person, conducting insurance transactions without a license, securities fraud, acting as an investment advisor without proper license, witness tampering and deceptive business practices for work he conducted through the Troy branch of his business, Kootenai Valley Tax and Wealth Management.
Investigation began in August 2018 by the Montana State Auditor, Commissioner of Securities Insurance following a complaint that Hartman was selling insurance products without a license and having his wife, Ginny Hartman, sign them.
Kip and his wife also maintained an office in Bonners Ferry, though their website has been taken down and their Facebook page hasn’t been updated since April, 2019. Both Kip and Ginny were subject to a temporary restraining order precluding them from “engaging in further acts or activity wherein the respondent acts in violation of the insurance code” issued by the Montana State Auditor’s office shortly after charges were filed.
Charging documents list six people, most elderly, who reported selling their investment portfolios and using the proceeds to purchase annuities with Hartman, at his recommendation.
Hartman allegedly earned $294,400 in commission from these sales, prosecutors say.
While he was not licensed in Montana to conduct such business, his wife was and it was her signature that appeared on the relevant paperwork, prosecutors allege. The alleged victims said they had never met his wife, or had minimal contact with her.
Due to COVID, the trial is being held in the Libby Memorial Events Center, 111 East Lincoln Boulevard, and is expected to last through Friday, February 5.