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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 10, 2019

Florida Man Pleads Guilty To Securities Fraud

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that BRIAN ROBERSON, 42, of Fort Myers, Florida, pled guilty today to securities fraud before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel. 

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and other court documents:

Starting in late 2010, ROBERSON, an investor (the “Investor”), and another partner (the “Partner”) met in New York, New York, and agreed to jointly develop and implement a high-frequency trading algorithm.  Among other things, ROBERSON falsely represented to the Investor and Partner that he was able to secure favorable terms at a securities clearing firm (the “Clearing Firm”) because he and his company, Savant Capital Management LLC (“Savant”), already held significant funds in an account there.  ROBERSON suggested that the Investor wire funds to Savant, which would be placed into an account at the Clearing Firm and could thereafter be used for trading based on the algorithm. 

In January 2011, at the direction of ROBERSON, and in reliance upon ROBERSON’s representations, the Investor wired more than $250,000 to an account controlled by ROBERSON.  Unbeknownst to the Investor, ROBERSON transferred only approximately $233,000 of the Investor’s funds to the Clearing Firm.  The remaining funds were withdrawn in cash or transferred to other bank accounts controlled by ROBERSON and misappropriated for his personal benefit.

By April 2011, ROBERSON ceased making payments to the vendor responsible for development of the trading algorithm, and the Investor contacted ROBERSON and requested the return of his remaining investment funds, which the Investor understood, based on ROBERSON’s previous representations, were intact.  ROBERSON returned a portion of the Investor’s funds, totaling approximately $50,000.  Unbeknownst to the Investor, however, ROBERSON misappropriated the remainder of the Investor’s funds to cover trading losses and fees in ROBERSON’s accounts at the Clearing Firm, and by transferring a portion of the Investor’s funds to bank accounts belonging to ROBERSON and his family members up through and including in October 2011, when ROBERSON’s account at the Clearing Firm was closed.  ROBERSON ultimately used the Investor’s funds for his and his family’s personal benefit, including the purchase of expensive jewelry.

ROBERSON pled guilty to one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

ROBERSON is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Seibel on August 26, 2019, at 10:00 a.m.

Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the FBI.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys James McMahon and Jeffrey Coffman are in charge of the prosecution.    

Press Release Number: 
19-151
Updated May 10, 2019