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Ex-FA Faces Up to 20 Years in Prison for Fleecing Clients Out of $3.7M

October 5, 2020

A former Commonwealth financial advisor has pled guilty to fleecing more than 20 clients out of more than $3.7 million over the course of 10 years, according to local news reports.

Last week, Gerald Eaton pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, Patch.com writes, citing the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. Eaton is scheduled to be sentenced in early 2021, according to the online news website. He faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervision and a fine of up to $250,000, Patch.com writes. 

The Attorney’s Office says that between 1999 and 2019, Eaton stole close to $4 million in client money by moving the proceeds from the sale of securities and insurance policies in his clients’ accounts to accounts that he owned or controlled, according to the website. In addition, Eaton forged clients’ signatures on checks and other financial documents, according to the Attorney’s Office, Patch.com writes.

Officials say Eaton worked as a certified financial planner, doing business under the name Heritage Financial Group, Patch.com writes.

Eaton was also an associated person of Commonwealth Financial Network from March 1995 to October 2019, the SEC says in an administrative proceeding document announcing that it barred Eaton from the industry in connection with his guilty plea.

Commonwealth discharged Eaton in October 2019 over allegations of “[f]orgery, wrongful taking of property,” according to his BrokerCheck profile. 

Finra barred Eaton in November 2019 over allegations that he failed to provide documents for the industry self-regulator’s investigation of claims that he was discharged because “he fraudulently facilitated distributions from clients’ accounts without their knowledge or consent or for their benefit,” according to BrokerCheck.

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By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Patch.com article cited in this story, click here.
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Tags:  Regulatory/legal issues , Commonwealth Financial Network

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