United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Fair Oaks Investment Advisor Sentenced To Four Years And Nine Months In Prison For Ponzi Scheme
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
CONTACT: Lauren Horwood
Docket #: 2:11-CR-00481 JAM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Thomas Brown Hammond, 63, of Fair Oaks, was sentenced today to four years and nine months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez ordered Hammond to pay $536,521 in restitution to his victims. Hammond pleaded guilty on January 3, 2012 to embezzling money from employee retirement accounts.
Hammond was a registered securities representative and investment advisor who worked in Fair Oaks. According to court documents, from December 2010 through February 23, 2011, Hammond began stealing money from his clients’ retirement and investment accounts. Some of this money came from employee benefit plans and employee pension benefit plans.
According to court documents, Hammond advised new and existing clients to invest money in a “private portfolio” that he maintained. Hammond told his clients that this portfolio earned a steady interest rate that exceeded the rate that the clients were earning in their current investments. These statements were not true. Hammond took the money that the clients gave him to invest in the fraudulent private portfolio and deposited it into a standard business account at American River Bank. Hammond then withdrew this money and used it for his personal expenses.
According to court documents, Hammond did not provide regular documentation to his defrauded clients showing the status of the money that they thought they had invested in the private portfolio. When asked, he sometimes provided bogus updates of the clients’ investment, either orally or through false one-page account summaries. When one client asked to cash out $58,000 that they had invested, Hammond said that they would have to wait seven days before the money would be available. One week later, Hammond returned $48,000 to that client. That money was stolen from a second victim.
At sentencing, Judge Mendez heard from three of Hammond’s victims. One victim described how Hammond had taken advantage of her vulnerability after she had been widowed. “I was the perfect victim ... a widow, all alone,” she said. This victim described for Judge Mendez how Hammond did not just steal her retirement, “you stole my dreams, my future.” Because of the amount of money that Hammond stole from this victim, she was unable to retire and care for her elderly mother, and her home was in foreclosure.
A second victim described how she trusted Hammond because she and her husband thought he “was honest and had integrity.” She admitted that this assessment was incorrect, and went on to describe Hammond as a “thief, a swindler, a consummate liar, all under the cloak of responsibility.” She said that the stress from Hammond’s theft had caused her marriage to nearly dissolve, and that she and her husband now faced the prospect as they grow older of being a financial drain upon their children.
The third victim told Judge Mendez how Hammond not only stole her money, but stole her “dreams of a secure retirement.”
In sentencing Hammond, Judge Mendez contrasted the positive image painted by Hammond’s supporters with the person who had pleaded guilty and stood before him at sentencing. Someone, Judge Mendez said, who would “take money from widows.” Ultimately, Judge Mendez determined that the harm caused by Hammond’s crimes “far outweighs all the good things you did in your life. I think [this crime] is inexcusable.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Secret Service, and the Placer County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Kyle Reardon prosecuted the case.