TUSCUMBIA — Authorities said a Colbert County man accused of misappropriating funds from investors for his own benefit has pleaded guilty to securities and insurance fraud.

Officials with the Alabama Securities Commission said Ronald “Ronnie” Warren Powell, 56, 613 Brighton Ave., Muscle Shoals, pleaded guilty in Colbert County Court to one count of securities fraud and one count of insurance fraud.

The two charges are both Class B felonies, which are punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000 each.

As a part of the plea, Powell was sentenced to a seven years for securities fraud, and five years for insurance fraud. The sentences are to run concurrently.

Powell is asking for probation. A hearing on the request has been set for Feb. 25.

He was indicted in March following an investigation by the Alabama Securities Commission and the Alabama Department of Insurance.

According to the grand jury indictment, Powell was charged with acting as an insurance and financial agent to defraud customers of money.

Investigators said the customers were paying Powell for services, but he was not providing them with the services.

Officials with the Alabama Securities Commission said according to the indictment, Powell participated in illegal securities transactions by selling promissory notes, and misappropriating the investment funds received in exchange for the notes.

Reports indicate Powell accepted more than $800,000 of investor funds that he reportedly used for his personal benefit instead of investing the money.

Authorities said Powell also received money from two victims who were paying life insurance premiums. He failed to remit those premiums to the appropriate insurance companies in a timely manner.

The investigation determined the policies were subsequently cancelled by the companies for nonpayment of premiums. Reports indicate Powell was notified of the cancellations, but kept the funds and did not refund them to the victims. The total amount exceeded $30,000.

A 2015 order from the Alabama Securities Commission barred Powell from "transacting business as a dealer, agent, investment advisor, or investment advisor representative."

Reports indicate Powell continued to act as a financial adviser even after being barred from doing so.

He was the chairman and CEO of Tom Jones Insurance and Financial Services Group at the time, the order states.

Powell remains out on bond pending the probation determination hearing.

tom.smith@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5757. Twitter @TD_TomSmith.

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