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Preet Bharara, 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 Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that BARRY CONNELL was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly using his position as a financial adviser at a global financial institution based in New York City (the “Bank”) to defraud multiple Bank clients out of at least $5 million over a one-year period. CONNELL was arrested this morning in Henderson, Nevada, and will be presented later today in federal court in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, Barry Connell used his clients’ bank accounts as his own, siphoning off millions of dollars to pay for his extravagant lifestyle, including a country club membership and private jet expenses.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “The reliability of our banking system is paramount to the success of our economy and ability of our markets to flourish. But when that confidence deteriorates because people allegedly breach the expectation of trust, we all suffer. There’s no excuse for this type of alleged crime, especially when a client’s hard-earned money is involved.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
From December 2015 to November 2016, CONNELL, a former financial adviser at the Bank, effected numerous unauthorized transactions from five accounts belonging to a single family of Bank clients, and as a result defrauded the clients of at least approximately $5 million.
In some instances, CONNELL effected the fraudulent transactions by submitting Bank forms falsely stating that he had received client instructions authorizing wire transfers to third parties for the client’s benefit, when in fact he had not received client authorization and the wire transfers were for CONNELL’s own benefit. In other instances, CONNELL effected the fraudulent transactions by using one client’s checks, which had been intended only to pay the client’s bills, to instead pay for CONNELL’s own expenses.
CONNELL used the client funds to pay for numerous exorbitant personal expenses, including a year’s rent for a house near Las Vegas, country club membership fees, and private jet expenses. CONNELL also paid bills for a credit card account in his spouse’s name, and made payments for his own benefit to automobile dealerships, an entertainment company, and a yacht company.
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CONNELL, 50, of Chester, New Jersey, is charged with one count of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the FBI and thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Chester Township, New Jersey, Police Department and the Henderson, Nevada, Police Department for their assistance. He added that the investigation is continuing.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Won S. Shin is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.