Former top broker gets over 17 years for scamming clients

A former Pennsylvania financial adviser who earned millions by pushing high-risk, high-fee investments on unsuspecting retirees has been sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison

SCRANTON, Pa. — A former Pennsylvania financial adviser who earned millions by pushing high-risk, high-fee investments on unsuspecting retirees was sentenced Friday to more than 17 years in federal prison.

A judge said Anthony Diaz took advantage of dozens of clients, some of whom lost their life savings or were unable to send their children to college as a result of the fraud.

Diaz, who has been living in Florida, was handcuffed in the courtroom and led away to immediately begin serving his sentence.

The federal prosecution was highly unusual in that Diaz did not steal people’s nest eggs. Rather, jurors were told, Diaz had unsuspecting customers sign blank documents, then falsified their net worth, income, investment experience and risk tolerance to make it appear they met the suitability requirements of the products.

Former customers testified that Diaz guaranteed them high returns while failing to explain they could lose their money or that it would be tied up for years.

Testifying in his own defense, Diaz acknowledged paperwork errors but denied criminal intent. He said the investments he sold were vetted and approved by the brokerages he worked with, and insisted he fully explained the risks to his clients.

U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion called Diaz an unrepentant con man who had brazenly “lied through his teeth” to the jury that convicted him, then repeated the lies in his statement to the court Friday.

The 11 clients whom Diaz was charged with defrauding lost as much as $3.5 million, according to court documents, but Mannion said he had received victim impact statements from 30 people.

The case illustrated how problem brokers can bounce from firm to firm despite racking up consumer complaints and rules infractions. Diaz affiliated with 11 investment firms in 15 years, getting booted from five of them and resigning from another.

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