Home Boston Press Releases 2009 Plymouth Financial Adviser Charged in $4.3 Million Embezzlement Scheme

Plymouth Financial Adviser Charged in $4.3 Million Embezzlement Scheme

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 16, 2009
  • District of Massachusetts (617) 748-3100

BOSTON, MA—A former Plymouth financial adviser was charged today in federal court with fraud and tax charges in connection with his theft of $4.3 million from his clients.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division; Susan Dukes, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation - Boston Field Office; and Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced today that STEPHEN CLIFFORD, 58, of Plymouth, MA, was charged in an Information with one count of willful violation of the Investment Advisers Act, one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and three counts of subscribing to a false tax return.

The Information alleges that from about March 2003 through June 2008, CLIFFORD induced clients to give him and his company, Clifford Financial Associates, money to invest on their behalf, assuring them that he would select appropriate securities for their financial needs and tolerance for risk. Instead of investing the money, however, the Information alleges that CLIFFORD used the funds to pay personal expenses—including his mortgage, alimony, credit card bills, payments on his home equity line of credit, and his daughter's college tuition—and to fund a personal trading account which he used to speculate in oil futures. The Information alleges that CLIFFORD's scheme resulted in a loss to about 20 investors of $4.3 million. The Information further alleges that CLIFFORD filed tax returns which failed to report $2.1 million in investor funds which he had converted to his own use for tax years 2004 through 2006.

If convicted of a violation of the Investment Advisers Act, CLIFFORD faces up to five years' imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a fine up to $8.6 million. The mail and wire fraud counts are each punishable by up to 20 years' imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $8.6 million. The tax charges are each punishable by up to three years' imprisonment, one year of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

The case was investigated by the Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Ortiz's Economic Crimes Unit.

The details contained in the Information are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.