KIRKLAND BROKER CHARGED WITH MAIL FRAUD FOR STEALING FROM INVESTORS
Initial Criminal Charge Aimed at Securing Any Assets for Victimized Investors
Federal prosecutors today charged RHONDA L. BREARD, 47, a former Kirkland, Washington investment advisor, with Mail Fraud, in connection with a scheme to defraud dozens of clients out of millions of dollars. BREARD will make her initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:30 this afternoon. According to the criminal complaint, BREARD accepted millions of dollars from at least 20 investors. She told the investors the money would be placed in a variety of financial and insurance products. Instead, BREARD used the money for her own expenses, and mailed phony statements to these customers.
“Investigators are still determining the extent of the fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “We are aggressively trying to learn information about her clients and assets, and we want any assets preserved for victims in this case. We will ask the court to impose a condition that Ms. Breard not dispose of any assets while the investigation into the full scope of the fraud continues.”
The criminal complaint details how victims in this case trusted BREARD with their money after hearing her speak in investment classes at locations such as community colleges. Some had invested with BREARD for more than twenty years. The fraud came to light in early February 2010, when an auditor with ING Financial Partners made an unannounced visit to BREARD’s Kirkland office. BREARD had worked as an independent contractor for ING Financial Partners since 2004. The auditor found a locked file cabinet in BREARD’s office. He was told that it contained only BREARD’s personal tax information. In fact, when the file was unlocked at his request, he found a number of client files that revealed BREARD had not made investments with client money, but had in fact used it for her own benefit. A preliminary investigation by the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) indicates as many as 25 investors could be out more than $8 million.
Mail Fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, and the FBI continue to investigate the fraud. Anyone who invested with BREARD and Associates is asked to contact the FBI at 206-622-0460.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carl Blackstone and Matthew Diggs.
For additional information regarding the federal court process, please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.