A former stockbroker that used to work for A.G. Edwards and Stifel Nicolaus has pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Neil R. Harrison, could spend up to 27 months behind bars-although his agreement to repay $85,739, cooperate with police, and lack of a criminal record could help him receive less than the 21-month minimum sentence. Harrison is accused of defrauding clients at two Illinois firms. He solicited investors to place their money in commodities futures and the gold market but instead used their funds for gambling. The mail fraud charge is based on a wire transfer confirmation mailed to a Stifel client.
While this may be Harrison’s first official brush with the law, he was let go from A.G. Edwards in 2005 for failing to cooperate with a probe regarding his efforts to get a loan from a client. A.G. Edwards filed the necessary securities documents regarding his firing. Even though Stifel Nicolaus was aware of Harrison’s background, the broker-dealer still hired him-with a special supervised agreement-just 10 days after A.G. Edwards terminated him.
Stifel would eventually fire the stockbroker in 2008 for “unethical and professional misconduct.” The broker-dealer accused Harrison of soliciting and getting money and personal loans from clients for fraudulent investments.
Per Harrison’s plea agreement: The ex-stockbroker persuaded clients to sign paperwork to open margin accounts without making sure that they had a good understanding of what these accounts were or the interest rates associated with them. He would then direct his broker-dealer to issue wire transfers to the investors’ checking accounts to replace money that was issued to him for the bogus investments. He also made material misrepresentations to clients and prospective investors. He told them they could make a lot of money but they would have to go outside the traditional brokerage account for diversity when making investments.
At least five investors were defrauded.
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