U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Minnesota
(612) 664-5600
August 14, 2014

Investment Adviser and Attorney Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison After Pleading Guilty to Stealing More Than $4 Million

United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the sentence of MARK HOLT, 45, to ten years in federal prison for stealing more than $4 million from his investment advisory clients. The defendant, a securities broker, investment advisor, and now disbarred attorney, operated a fraud scheme for at least eight years, during which time he used the criminal proceeds to fund his own lavish lifestyle. HOLT pleaded guilty on April 1, 2014, in United States District Court in St. Paul, MN, to wire fraud.

“Far too often, investment advisors are caught defrauding their clients,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “This defendant was an attorney during the time that he was stealing from his clients. He not only engaged in criminal activity by stealing from his clients, he eroded public trust in our profession. My Office will continue to prosecute aggressively those who abuse professional positions of trust.”

According to his guilty plea, HOLT owned and operated the Harbor Investment Planning Group, LLC, later known as the Harbor Group, LLC (Harbor Group) from 2002 through January 2014. In 2005, HOLT opened bank accounts in the name of the Harbor Group, over which he had exclusive control. Between September 2005 and November 2013, HOLT persuaded investors to place more than $4 million into his trust by telling them that he was investing their money in legitimate long-term investments, such as bonds and mutual funds with JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Berkshire Hathaway, and others. By convincing clients to make long-term investments, HOLT expected them not to draw on those funds for many years. Instead, HOLT diverted the funds into Harbor Group checking accounts.

HOLT continued to defraud his clients using an array of schemes to make their investments seem legitimate, including making monthly annuity or interest payments to clients; providing fraudulent Morningstar “Portfolio Fact Sheet, Client Summary” printouts falsely reflecting that the clients’ funds had been placed in legitimate investment products; and creating online accounts for clients with Blueleaf, a web-based portal for viewing account information, including account balances and performance information, and causing weekly e-mail updates to be sent to clients via the Blueleaf system showing fraudulent account balances.

According to the documents filed in court, HOLT converted the investors’ money to his own use. He spent most of the money to fund his lavish lifestyle, including purchasing a membership at the White Bear Yacht Club, luxury cars from Maplewood Imports and Sears Imports, and stays at the Ritz Carlton. He also used some of the stolen funds to make Ponzi payments to the victims.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Svendsen.

U.S. Attorney Luger thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its assistance in the investigation.

Defendant Information:

MARK HOLT, D.O.B. 9/15/1969 Vadnais Heights, MN

Convicted:

  • Wire Fraud, 1 count

Sentenced:

  • 10 years in Federal Prison
  • Three years’ supervised release
  • Restitution of $2,940,982.75
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