California Commodities Trader Admits His Investment Scam Caused a Loss to Clients of More Than $3 Million
CHICAGO — A southern California commodities trader pleaded guilty in federal court in Chicago today to pocketing a portion of his clients’ money after falsely promising a 200% return on investment.
DAVID BRYANT admitted in a plea agreement that he obtained money from investors by falsely representing that his California-based company, the Bryant Family Investment Fund LLC, had successfully generated profits of more than 200% a year. In fact, the fund had performed no trading in its name, and the trading that Bryant did in his personal accounts – using client funds –resulted in large losses.
Bryant, 63, of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., admitted fraudulently obtaining approximately $5.1 million from investors and a financial institution, and causing a loss to investors and others of approximately $3.6 million. Some of Bryant’s personal accounts were located in Chicago.
Bryant pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. The conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greater. U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly scheduled a sentencing hearing for Jan. 18, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.
According to the plea agreement, Bryant attempted to make the scam appear legitimate by providing the victims with fraudulent documents that he created, including fictitious trading records and account statements that purported to reflect the clients’ growing investment proceeds. He further concealed the scheme by making Ponzi-type payments to other investors. Some of the money for the Ponzi payments came from a bank loan that Bryant fraudulently obtained by forging his mother’s signature on a property deed and using it as collateral for the loan, according to the plea agreement.
The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which filed a civil complaint against Bryant, assisted in the investigation.
A Court order entered in May in the civil suit required Bryant to pay a $3 million civil monetary penalty and more than $3.08 million in restitution. The order also imposed permanent trading and registration bans on Bryant, and prohibited him from committing further violations of the anti-fraud and registration provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act.
The government is represented in the criminal case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Stern.