Ex-broker took $ 411,000 from customers, money went to casinos
Posted: Feb 14, 2021, 10:02 a.m.
Last update on: February 15, 2021, 10:53 a.m.
An excluded investment broker is on bail after federal officials accused him of stealing more than $ 400,000 from clients. The money was used to pay off personal debts, including money owed to casinos.
Apostolos Pitsironis, 52, faces up to 20 years in prison, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office for the eastern district of New York. FBI agents arrested him on Wednesday in Dix Hills on Long Island. He made his first court appearance on the same day.
According to a complaint filed Tuesday by FBI Special Agent Rachel Cartwright, Pitsironis served as an advisor to an unnamed married couple for 10 years from 2009. After switching companies in late 2018, the couple moved their accounts to his new business so that he can continue to manage them.
A January 2019 announcement in News day showed that Janney Montgomery Scott LLC had hired Pitsironis to be its senior vice president located in his Melville office. Previously, he worked as a branch manager for Wells Fargo.
Around the same time, authorities say Pitsironis asked clients for a loan of $ 200,000. They rejected his request.
Almost six months later, between May 2, 2019 and June 11, 2019, they allege he made 22 wire transfers from victims’ accounts to the one he and his wife controlled. While making the transfers, Pitsironis falsely stated that he received verbal approval to make the transfers.
Financial advisers have an important responsibility to properly manage the savings of a lifetime of those who trust them. Anyone who fails on this front by engaging in illegal practices should and will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, ”FBI Deputy Director William F. Sweeney, Jr. said in a statement.
Court records show Pitsironis posted the $ 200,000 bond on Wednesday.
Over $ 60,000 went to casinos
Cartwright claimed that Pitsironis spent at least $ 62,402 at three casinos. He sent $ 40,502 to an unnamed casino in Atlantic City, then sent another $ 15,000 to a second casino in New Jersey City.
He also sent $ 2,000 to an unnamed South Florida casino. Records indicate that he also made over $ 2,000 in payments for a car and over $ 1,700 for a landscaper.
Pitsironis is also said to have made withdrawals totaling $ 18,600. This included a disbursement of $ 4,900 at an ATM at Atlantic City’s first unnamed casino.
The funds were frozen about a week after the last transfers.
“As alleged, the defendant stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors to pay off his personal debts, violating their trust in him to handle their money safely and honestly,” Acting US Attorney Seth D. DuCharme said in a statement. “This office is committed to protecting the investing public from corrupt financial advisers like the Respondent, who put greed ahead of the best interests of their clients.”
Tricking investors into paying off gambling debts or sustaining a habit is not a new trend. Authorities prosecuted several people for exploitation Ponzi schemes to finance gambling frenzy.
Sports radio personality Craig Box received a 42-month federal sentence after using $ 5.6 million in investor money destined for a ticket resale business to fuel a gambling habit. After serving about a year in prison, he is currently incarcerated at home.
Broker banned from authority after compliance
The Financial Sector Regulatory Authority (FINRA) serves as the private regulatory authority over securities firms. Its origins date back over 80 years.
FINRA’s BrokerCheck reported that a client filed a complaint on June 17, 2019 that Pitsironis transferred $ 411,000 from his account without authorization. The record indicates that Janney Montgomery Scott settled the case in its entirety.
On June 19, records show the company fired him after conducting its own review.
On September 9, 2019, the organization announced that it was banning Pitsironis from “partnering with any FINRA member company” in any position. In the ruling, FINRA said Pitsironis had accepted it “without admitting or denying” the charges.
From September 6, 2019 to February 26, 2020, six other customers filed disputes. All indicate that the client loaned Pitsironis money, but either delayed repaying or did not pay at all. In some cases, funds came from clients’ individual retirement accounts and faced tax penalties without being repaid on time.
These six cases claimed damages totaling nearly $ 434,000. BrokerCheck says all parties settled the cases for nearly $ 370,000 combined.