Financial Advisor Charged With Embezzlement From Client

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WPCNR FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investigation. April 28, 2022:

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment in White Plains federal court charging ADAM BELARDINO, the Chief Executive Officer of the Maddox Group, a financial advisory firm in New York City and elsewhere, with wire fraud in connection with his embezzlement of more than $313,000 from a Maddox client, a 64 year old New Rochelle resident. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:  “Adam Belardino abused the trust his client placed in him by stealing more than $313,000 the client gave him to be invested.  Clients like the victim in this case need to be able to entrust their money to financial advisors with confidence that the money will be invested in a manner that is appropriate for them.  This Office will aggressively pursue financial advisors and others who steal money entrusted to them by clients.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll said:  “Belardino is charged today for allegedly stealing several hundred thousand dollars from a client in an illegal investment fraud scheme. Financial crimes of this nature can cause significant disruptions to the lives of those who are victimized. We urge everyone to exercise their due diligence when investing their money and to report suspicious activity to authorities as soon as possible.”

According to the Indictment unsealed today in White Plains federal court[1]:

BELARDINO had managed the victim’s investments at another firm before he founded Maddox in July 2019.  In August 2019, BELARDINO convinced the victim to liquidate some of her portfolio and to transfer the liquidated funds to Maddox for investment.  The victim then transferred more than $313,000 to Maddox in eight separate transactions between August 2019 and October 2020.  Instead of investing the victim’s money as he had promised, BELARDINO used the victim’s money to pay the operating expenses of Maddox, including payroll and office rent; to pay down prior debt; to pay credit card charges, which consisted primarily of personal items; and to pay for personal travel. 

In September 2021, the victim directed BELARDINO to transfer her portfolio at Maddox to her brokerage account at another firm.  From September 2021 to February 2022, BELARDINO sent the victim and members of her family emails and texts in which he said he was liquidating the portfolio and would return the funds shortly.  BELARDINO also provided the victim’s family with documents suggesting that a wire transfer of the funds to the victim’s bank account was imminent or pending.  BELARDINO also deposited checks drawn on a checking account held by Maddox into the victim’s bank account for what he claimed was the full value of the victim’s portfolio. 

The victim never received any funds by wire and the checks BELARDINO deposited into her bank account were returned because the Maddox account did not have sufficient funds to cover the checks.  BELARDINO sent members of the victim’s family emails and texts in which he said in substance and in part that he was working with bank officials to resolve the problem and that his family would repay the victim if he was unable to do so.  BELARDINO also sent members of the victim’s family a document that falsely stated that the Maddox bank account had sufficient funds to repay the victim.

BELARDINO, 37, of New York City, is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

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