A Livingston investment broker who stole $270,283 from an elderly couple by getting them to invest in a fictitious investment program was sentenced to prison Friday.
Michael Alan Siegel was sentenced to three years in state prison for second-degree theft by decisions and must pay full restitution to his victim. Her husband is now deceased.
The New Jersey Bureau of Securities initially investigated Siegel, revoking his broker-dealer registration on Feb. 1, 2018 and assessed penalties of $100,000 against him. The Bureau of Securities then referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice.
Siegel befriended the couple before convincing them to transfer their investment accounts, which totaled more than $2 million, to his employer. When he moved to another firm in 2014, the couple transferred their investments to Siegel’s new firm. In Jan. 2014. he encouraged them to invest in a fictitious investment program and to make their checks payable to him. Siegel used the money, which came in 49 checks, for his personal benefit.
“Investors count on their brokers to act with honesty and integrity in managing their investments, but Siegel callously betrayed the trust of his victims by stealing over a quarter of a million dollars from them,” said Attorney General Grewal in a statement. “We are committed to protecting New Jersey’s investors by holding dishonest brokers accountable through civil actions as well as criminal prosecutions, where appropriate.”
After the woman’s husband died in 2015, she and her daughter, who also invested through Siegel, began to question his management of their investments. On Oct. 28, 2016, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms in the United States, barred him from associating with FINRA members, prompting the Bureau of Securities to initiate its investigation of Siegel.
“This is an especially egregious case of investment fraud because of the way that Siegel exploited his friendship with the elderly victims to deceive them,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work with the Bureau of Securities to protect investors and ensure that dishonest brokers like Siegel face justice.”
Investors who believe they have been defrauded should contact the Division of Criminal Justice toll-free at 866-TIPS-4CJ (866-847-7425) or the Bureau of Securities toll-free at 866-I-INVEST (866-446-8378). Callers outside New Jersey can contact the Bureau of Securities at 973-504-3600.