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Press Release

Former Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor Sentenced For Embezzlement

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Florida

TALLAHASSEE, FL B James Ryan Lanier, 33, was sentenced to 106 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $800,000 from Merrill Lynch clients.   The sentence was announced by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Between 2008 and 2010, Lanier used his position as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch in Tallahassee to funnel approximately $887,931 in client funds to his own personal bank accounts.  Lanier was able to induce Merrill Lynch Client Associates to wire transfer client funds to bank accounts Lanier controlled by using forged client authorization letters and falsely claiming that his clients had verbally approved the transfers.  To facilitate the scheme, Lanier purposely sought assistance from Merrill Lynch employees who were unfamiliar with Lanier’s clients.  Lanier used the embezzled client funds to make loan payments, and to purchase vehicles, an interest in a cellular telecommunications business, and a condominium in Albany, Georgia.

Last November, Lanier pled guilty to 13 counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, four counts of money laundering, and two counts of aggravated identity theft in connection with the embezzlement.

In addition to the prison sentence, Lanier was ordered to pay $887,931 in restitution to Merrill Lynch.

U.S. Attorney Marsh commended the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, and the United States Marshal’s Service, whose joint investigation led to the arrest in this case.  Ms. Marsh stated, “This office will vigorously prosecute financial advisors and consultants who victimize and swindle their own clients. This sentence should serve as a stark warning to those who may be tempted to line their own pockets by betraying their clients’ trust.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Coody.
Updated January 26, 2015