Registered Securities Agent and Financial Adviser Pleads Guilty to Defrauding at Least 24 Victims of More Than $980,000
United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the guilty plea of SUSAN ELIZABETH WALKER, 50, for abusing her position of trust as a registered securities agent and financial advisor to steal nearly $1 million from at least 24 victims. WALKER, who was charged by information on September 22, 2014, pleaded guilty today before Chief Judge Michael Davis in United States District Court in Minneapolis.
“The theft of investment funds by trusted financial advisors erodes the public’s confidence in the market,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “Prosecutors in my Office, in collaboration with our state and federal law enforcement partners, will continue to investigate and prosecute aggressively those who abuse their positions of trust to steal from clients, and as in this case, endanger their retirement security.”
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, from October 2008 until March 2013, WALKER provided financial planning services to several clients through her affiliation with Ameriprise Financial Inc. She was a securities agent registered with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and a financial advisor registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). WALKER stole from her clients by misusing her access to several victim retirement accounts and causing checks to be drawn from victim accounts and deposited into accounts that she controlled.
According to documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court, WALKER also opened investment brokerage accounts in her own name, and in the names of several victim-clients without their knowledge or authorization, which she used to conceal money stolen from other clients. She caused money to be withdrawn from retirement accounts belonging to clients and deposited in those brokerage accounts, which she took for her own personal use. For example, on September 18, 2009, WALKER caused a check for $75,000 to be issued from a victim account and deposited into an account controlled by WALKER. The defendant used funds stolen as part of the fraud scheme to pay for, among other things, private school tuition and for her own expensive vacation travel.
According to her guilty plea, in addition to stealing from her clients, WALKER also failed to report any of the funds obtained through fraud on her tax returns. The total tax loss on her unreported income is approximately $325,000.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Rank prosecuted the case.
- SUSAN ELIZABETH WALKER, 50
- Plymouth, Minn.
- Mail Fraud, 1 count
- Tax Evasion, 1 count