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Press Release

Former Securities Lawyer Pleads Guilty To Securites Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Disbarred Marin attorney admits he defrauded investors of more than $2.5 million

SAN JOSE – James Seltzer, a former attorney and resident of Marin County, pleaded guilty to securities fraud, announced United States Attorney Brian Stretch, FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.  The guilty plea was accepted yesterday by U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh.

According to the plea agreement, beginning no later than October of 2007 through at least May of 2011, Seltzer, 67, formerly of Belvedere, defrauded and deceived multiple individuals in connection with the purchase and sale of securities.  Seltzer admitted he misrepresented to the investors that he would use their money to make certain investments for their exclusive benefit but instead diverted the funds to other uses.  Seltzer acknowledged that in many cases, he diverted all or virtually all of the monies he had obtained from his investors and spent the monies on his own personal and business expenses after depositing the funds into his own personal bank accounts.  Seltzer further admitted that he had more than ten victims resulting in losses of more than $2,500,000.

Seltzer was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 18, 2015.  He 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. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Seltzer admitted his guilt to one count of securities fraud and the remaining counts were dismissed.  After being apprehended in Hawaii in September 2015, Seltzer was ordered to appear in San Jose to face the charges presented in the indictment. 

The maximum term of imprisonment for securities fraud is 20 years.  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 before Judge Koh on February 15, 2017, for sentencing.  

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

Updated September 20, 2016

Financial Fraud
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud