A financial adviser at a New Jersey bank has been charged with stealing over $5 million from his clients, which he used to pay for a country club membership, a summer house in Las Vegas and the use of a private jet, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
According to the criminal complaint included in the press release, Barry Connell spent just under a year, from December 2015 to November 2016, allegedly defrauding his customers while he managed their investments. Connell is accused of stealing money from five accounts belonging to a single family, with the money going towards a private jet company in California, auto dealerships in Delaware and California and one $48,652 payment going towards a dentist in Texas.
Connell allegedly took the money by submitting fraudulent bank transfers that he said were authorized by his clients, and in some cases used checks that were supposed to be used to pay his client's bills to pay credit card bills, for membership in a yacht club and for a summer home in Nevada.
While the bank that Connell worked at isn't mentioned in the press release, Connell was fired from a New Jersey branch of Morgan Stanley on November 10th, 2016 after he was accused of committing the crimes he was charged with yesterday. Connell was arrested on Friday in a Las Vegas suburb, and in addition to his criminal charges, he was hit with civil charges by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Connell was charged with one count of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison. Connell could also be hit with a maximum $1 million fine for the wire fraud and a maximum $250,000 fine for the identity theft.
“The reliability of our banking system is paramount to the success of our economy and ability of our markets to flourish. But when that confidence deteriorates because people allegedly breach the expectation of trust, we all suffer," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in the press release announcing Connell's charges. "There’s no excuse for this type of alleged crime, especially when a client’s hard-earned money is involved.”