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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Former Securities Lawyer Sentenced To Six Years Of Imprisonment For Securities Fraud

Disbarred Marin attorney also ordered to pay more than $4.5 million in restitution to defrauded investors

SAN JOSE – James Seltzer, a former attorney and resident of Marin County, was sentenced to 72 months’ imprisonment for securities fraud, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.  The sentence, issued today by U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh, follows a guilty plea entered September 14, 2016.

According to his plea agreement, beginning no later than October of 2007 through at least May of 2011, Seltzer, 69, 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.  The court found Seltzer defrauded 16 investors of more than $4.5 million and ordered Seltzer to pay restitution to his victims in the amount of $4,646,555.

According to papers filed by the government, Seltzer’s victims included several women with whom he conducted personal relationships in order to gain their trust as a precursor to stealing from them.  During today’s sentencing proceedings, after hearing from several of Seltzer’s victims, Judge Koh described Seltzer’s conduct as “callous.”  Furthermore, in addition to the victims in his criminal case, bankruptcy filings reveal Seltzer accumulated a debt of well over $20 million to numerous other individuals.  Seltzer fled the country in 2010 and remained overseas for 5 years. 

On June 18, 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Seltzer charging him 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.  He was apprehended in Hawaii in September 2015, and, pursuant to the plea agreement, pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud.  The remaining counts were dismissed.   

In addition to the prison term and restitution, Judge Koh also sentenced Seltzer to serve a three-year period of supervised release.  Judge Koh ordered Seltzer to surrender no later than April 19, 2017, to begin serving his sentence.   

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.

Financial Fraud
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Updated February 22, 2017