Registered Securities Agent and Financial Adviser Sentenced to 88 Months in Prison for Defrauding at Least 24 Victims of More Than $1.1 Million
United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the sentencing of SUSAN ELIZABETH WALKER, 51, to 88-months in prison. WALKER pleaded guilty last year to stealing more than $1.1 million from at least 24 victims who were clients of a financial planning company run by WALKER and her mother. She was sentenced today before Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Davis in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
“Susan Walker preyed upon people who trusted her, stealing repeatedly from vulnerable victims over many years,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Rank. “She targeted those with modest retirement savings and used their money to satisfy her own greed. Despite her attempts to cover her crimes, they were uncovered by the excellent work of the IRS, FBI and the Fraud Bureau of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Although Walker’s victims will likely never be made financially whole, the sentence handed down today by the Court is both appropriate and fair, and gives some solace to the people she betrayed.”
“Walker stole her clients’ life savings by abusing her position of trust,” said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Many of Walker’s victims were seniors who counted on her to manage their accounts responsibly, but instead she diverted their hard-earned savings to finance her own lavish lifestyle. The Commerce Department, and in this case the Commerce Fraud Bureau, is working closely with prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies to stop financial crimes.”
“People rely on the advice and trust the services of their financial advisor to make life decisions. They expect them to be honest and trustworthy,” said Shea Jones, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation, St. Paul Field Office. “Ms. Walker violated this expectation, and stole from her clients for her own personal gain. Let this sentence serve as a deterrent to those who may contemplate similar fraudulent actions.”
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. WALKER used the money she stole to pay for, among other things, private school tuition, salon appointments, vehicles 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 Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, the Fraud Bureau of the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the FBI, with significant assistance from Ameriprise Financial, Inc, and the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Rank.
SUSAN ELIZABETH WALKER, 51
- Mail Fraud, 1 count
- Tax Evasion, 1 count
- 88 months in prison
- Three years’ supervised release
- $978,950.51 restitution