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Press Release

Former Marin Attorney Charged In Securites Fraud, Money Laundering Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Disbarred securities lawyer allegedly defrauded clients and investors

SAN JOSE – James Seltzer, a former attorney and resident of Marin County, appeared today in San Jose on charges he defrauded several clients by convincing them to make contributions for sham investments, announced Acting United States Attorney Brian Stretch,  FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson, and IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.  Seltzer was apprehended in Hawaii and ordered to appear in San Jose to face the charges presented in an indictment filed the Northern District of California.

According to the indictment unsealed today, beginning in 2005 through 2011, Seltzer, 67, of Belvedere, approached several clients of his law practice, as well as their friends and acquaintances, to solicit funds for sham investments.  For some potential investors, Seltzer invited them to invest in real estate outside the United States.  For other potential investors, Seltzer convinced them to hand over funds for stock investments.  For example, Seltzer allegedly represented to victims that he could purchase shares of private companies before the companies were acquired by publically traded companies.  Seltzer allegedly told his victims that his status as a shareholder of the private companies gave him special access to the shares before the companies were acquired.  Then, rather than invest the money as he promised, Seltzer deposited the funds from potential investors into his own personal bank accounts.  According to the indictment, Seltzer spent the money on his own personal expenses including home mortgages, credit card bills, and international travel.  In addition, Seltzer engaged in a “Ponzi” scheme in which he diverted monies received from later investors to return monies to earlier investors.  In sum, Seltzer was charged with five counts of securities fraud, in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 78; one count of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341; and three counts of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted, the maximum term of imprisonment for securities fraud is 20 years for each count, the maximum term of imprisonment for mail fraud is 20 years, and the maximum term of imprisonment for money laundering is 10 years for each count. Additional periods of supervised release, fines, and special assessments also could be imposed.    Any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Seltzer remains free on a bond and is scheduled to appear on September 17, 2015, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd to assess the conditions of release pending trial. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy Lucey and Arvon Perteet are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Laurie Worthen and Yolanda Singletary.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

Updated September 13, 2017

Financial Fraud
Mortgage Fraud
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud