The Securities and Change Fee (SEC) barred a Mass.-based funding advisor, previously affiliated with LPL, that stole greater than $2.8 million from shoppers.
The settlement with the SEC comes practically three months after James Okay. Couture pleaded responsible to 4 counts of wire fraud, 4 counts of aggravated id theft, one depend of funding advisor fraud and one depend of witness tampering in Mass. federal courtroom, based on the Justice Division.
Couture, who lived in Sutton, Mass. is the founder and proprietor of the Personal Wealth Administration Group and was a twin registrant with LPL from 2009 to his firing in June 2020, based on the SEC’s settlement order. Couture had multi-year stints with Lincoln Monetary Group and New England Securities earlier than becoming a member of LPL, based on his BrokerCheck profile.
Based on the DOJ, Couture operated as an RIA out of an workplace in Worcester, investing shoppers in numerous insurance coverage merchandise, together with annuities, however all through his time at LPL, he misappropriated funds from shoppers for his personal bills.
To take action, Couture would advise shoppers to take a position their funds in sub-accounts managed by an unnamed LPL-authorized sub-advisor, and started convincing shoppers to promote components of their funds to “Legacy Monetary Group,” claiming he’d reinvest them for higher income. However Couture failed to inform shoppers he’d shaped Legacy Monetary in 2009, and neither LPL or the sub-advisor had licensed Couture to make use of it as a third-party advisor for shoppers.
By promoting different shoppers’ holdings, he would pay funding returns and different wants; in 2016, Couture liquidated all of a shopper’s variable annuities to fund a separate shopper’s withdrawals; in Dec. 2019 and Jan. 2020, Couture paid a previously-defrauded shopper by promoting the mutual funds of different shoppers. Couture would forge signatures on paperwork, or get shoppers to signal paperwork by mendacity about how the proceeds of a transaction would profit them, based on the DOJ.
Couture was charged in June 2021 with wire fraud and aggravated id theft in Massachusetts federal courtroom. After fees had been filed, Couture created pretend paperwork he claimed had been for his shoppers’ accounts and continued to provide false info to one in all his victims for an extra six months, main the DOJ so as to add fees of witness tampering in opposition to the advisor this previous January.
Couture couldn’t be reached for remark, and his most up-to-date lawyer is listed as having ended his work with the advisor in January 2022.
Couture’s Personal Wealth Administration Group was by no means registered with the fee or with state regulators; whereas Legacy Monetary was shaped as an LLC in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Division of State administratively dissolved it in 2013, based on the SEC. FINRA additionally barred Couture from the business in Oct. 2020.
Couture faces a long time in jail on account of his responsible plea in September. The wire fraud fees permit for as much as 20 years in jail, in addition to three years of supervised releases, whereas the aggravated id theft fees vary as much as two years, the funding advisor fraud fees contain sentences as excessive as 5 years, and the witness tampering fees carry a possible sentence of 20 years in jail. Couture’s scheduled to be sentenced early subsequent 12 months.