Former Atlanta Investment Advisor Pleads Guilty to Embezzling More Than $2.5 Million from Clients
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 01, 2013|
ATLANTA—The owner and operator of Lighthouse Financial Partners LLC, an investment advisory service in Atlanta, Georgia, pleaded guilty today in federal court before U.S. District Judge Steven C. Jones to a charge of defrauding more than 50 of his clients. Benjamin Daniel DeHaan, 37, of Decatur, Georgia, stole more than $2.5 million from his clients and then used the money to purchase a home and partial ownership in a restaurant and bar in Memphis, Tennessee.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “This defendant may have started out as a legitimate investment advisor, but he got greedy and began stealing from his clients. In less than three years, he diverted more than $2.5 million from his clients’ accounts and used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle. He is now facing a lengthy prison sentence and will never work in the securities industry again.”
Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “The defendant in this case, while now acknowledging his criminal behavior, has caused much financial and emotional harm to the victims who were once his clients. The FBI remains committed to identifying, investigating, and presenting for prosecution such cases of criminal fraudulent activity that harm so many individuals.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court, DeHaan owned and operated Lighthouse Financial Partners LLC, an investment advisory service in Atlanta, Georgia. DeHaan recruited investors by posting a series of videos on Lighthouse’s website and on YouTube. DeHaan told investors that he had developed a proprietary software program that allowed him to determine when to buy and when to sell a particular stock. Approximately 114 people entrusted DeHaan with money to invest on their behalf. At its peak, Lighthouse had approximately $6.7 million in assets under management.
From January 2010 through May 2012, DeHaan misappropriated and converted to his own use more than $2.5 million of his clients’ money. DeHaan used the fraud proceeds to purchase a new house for himself in Memphis, Tennessee, and to purchase partial ownership of a restaurant and bar in Memphis. DeHaan also used his clients’ money to fund an investment account in his own name and to pay Lighthouse’s overhead and operating expenses. DeHaan attempted to cover-up his theft by e-mailing fraudulent account statements to investors. This lulled the victims into a false sense of security and delayed their complaints to law enforcement.
DeHaan pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with one count of wire fraud. He could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 9, 2013, at 11 a.m., before United States District Judge Steve C. Jones.
This case is being investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Russell Phillips is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office at USAGAN.Pressemails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.