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EX-Ameriprise Broker Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Stealing from Clients

By Erwin J. Shustak, Esq.  of Shustak Reynolds & Partners, P.C. posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

Former Ameriprise broker, Susan Elizabeth Walker of Minnesota, has been sentenced to seven years in in prison for stealing $1 million from her clients to pay for personal expenses including vacations and her children’s private school tuition. Walker plead guilty in October, 2014 and was sentenced last week. According to the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota, and Walker’s admission, Ms. Walker opened investment accounts in her own name and in the names of several clients without their permission. She then withdrew money from clients' brokerage and retirement accounts, deposited it into those accounts she controlled, and ultimately withdrew the money for personal use.

The fraud first came to light in October 2012 while the Minnesota Attorney General's Office was contacting various customers regarding their participation in an unrelated settlement over annuity sales. In the course of that outreach, the attorney general's office uncovered withdrawals from several senior citizens' annuities products that were made without their owners' knowledge, according to the order from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. She had been working at Ameriprise's branch office in Wayzata, Minn., alongside her mother, Barbara J. Stark, from October 2008 until March 2013, when they were terminated by the firm, according to an April order from the Office of Administrative Hearings for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which sought civil penalties.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. barred Ms. Walker and her mother from the brokerage industry in July 2013 for failing to provide documents in connection with allegations of misappropriating client funds. The order from the Department of Commerce also accused Ms. Walker of making unsuitable investment recommendations, including advising an 89-year-old client to invest over $75,000 into annuities in 2003, prior to her employment with Ameriprise. She later withdrew funds from those accounts for personal use, according to the order.

According to Ameriprise,  the firm had reimbursed clients for losses.

Shustak Reynolds & Partners, P.C. has extensive expertise and experience in the areas of securities, financial services and business law and handles many cases for brokers, brokerage firms, investment advisers and investors. For more information contact Erwin J. Shustak, Esq, Managing Partner, at 619.696.9500 or via email at [email protected]

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