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Investment Center Broker Accused of Stealing $300K from Elderly Client

Investment Center Broker Accused of Stealing $300K from Elderly Client on silverlaw.comLeon Vaccarelli allegedly defrauded a total of nine clients out of more than $1 million

In May, former financial advisor Leon Vaccarelli was charged with 12 counts of fraud and money laundering in a federal court in Connecticut. If convicted on all of them, he could receive a maximum penalty of 210 years in prison. After pleading not guilty, Vaccarelli was released on a $100,000 bond.

Vaccarelli is alleged to have stolen money from several clients between 2011 and 2017. During that time, he reportedly informed his clients that their money would be invested in different places, including money market accounts and retirement products. What Vaccarelli actually did, according to investigators, was put the money into his own account and use it to pay his own expenses. In addition, federal prosecutors also say that he also used client money to make interest payments to other investors.

Last year, the SEC brought civil charges against Vaccarelli. Their complaint alleges that Vaccarelli was essentially running a Ponzi scheme. At one point, when he had to repay $60,000 to one client, he allegedly stole $300,000 from an 88-year-old woman living in a nursing home and deposited it into his own bank account.

During the time period in question, Vaccarelli worked for The Investment Center in Waterbury, CT. According to his BrokerCheck report, he was fired from the firm for failing “to comply with company policy regarding access to his office and computer during an examination.” In his 17-year career, Vaccarelli also worked for three other firms:

  • IDS Life Insurance Company – Minneapolis, MN
  • Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. – Middlebury, CT
  • QA3 Financial Corp. – Waterbury, CT

Vaccarelli’s BrokerCheck report also shows that in 2015, he received a $7,500 fine and month suspension from FINRA. This was related to findings that he had exercised discretion in customer accounts without having written authorization from the clients or his member firm. He was also found to have lied on four annual compliance questionnaires about handling retail accounts on a discretionary basis.

In a strange twist to this story, while still out on bail, Vaccarelli recently asked federal prosecutors if he and his eight children could take vacations to several states. If allowed to go, he would have to wear a monitoring device so probation officers would know where he was at all times. Prosecutors were concerned that these vacations could affect the amount of money he would have to pay his victims in restitution if he is found guilty.

“It would certainly not be difficult for the defendant to spend tens of thousands of victim dollars (or more) in a relatively short period of time, given the states to which he plans to travel,” wrote prosecutor Michael S. McGarry. “The defendant has been charged with serious financial crimes and many victims can ill-afford a summer vacation much less multiple vacations.”

Those affected by broker misconduct should take action

Anyone who has lost money due to the actions of Leon Vaccarelli or any broker who may have violated securities industry rules should know that they may be able to recover it. While lawsuits can be long and costly, securities arbitration is typically a much quicker and less expensive process.

For information from an experienced securities arbitration attorney, contact the Silver Law Group. You can call us at 800-975-4345 or get in touch through our online contact form.

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