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October 26, 2010

BOSTON, Mass. - A former Plymouth financial adviser was sentenced today in federal court for fraud and tax charges in connection with his theft of $4.5 million from his clients.

STEPHEN CLIFFORD, 58, of Plymouth, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner to 97 months’ imprisonment, to be served consecutively to the 9 to 12 year state prison term Clifford is presently serving for a state rape conviction. The Judge also ordered Clifford to make restitution of $4,559,667.32 to his victims. Clifford pleaded guilty on May 4, 2010, to mail and wire fraud charges, violating the Investment Advisers Act, and three counts of subscribing to a false tax return.

At the earlier plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that had the case proceeded to trial the Government’s evidence would have proven that from about March 2003 through June 2008, Clifford induced clients to give him and his company, Clifford Financial Associates, money to invest on their behalf, assuring them that he would select appropriate securities for their financial needs and tolerance for risk. Instead of investing the money, however, Clifford used the funds to pay personal expenses–including his mortgage, alimony, credit card bills, payments on his home equity line of credit, and his daughter’s college tuition– and to fund a personal trading account which he used to speculate in oil futures. Clifford’s scheme resulted in a loss to about 24 investors of $4.5 million. Clifford also filed tax returns which failed to report $2.1 million in investor funds which he had converted to his own use for tax years 2004 through 2006.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the Postal Inspection Service, William Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation - Boston Field Office and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.


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