Clarence Investment Advisor Pleads Guilty To Bilking Clients Out Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Michael Giokas, 58, of Clarence, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to wire fraud for defrauding numerous clients of his investment advisory firm out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Bonanno, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was a financial advisor and president of Giokas Wealth Advisors, located in Clarence. In that role, Giokas provided financial advisory services to more than 40 individual clients.
Between May 2017 and October 2017, the defendant persuaded certain clients to withdraw money from their investment accounts at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and invest the money in a company called Trinity Council, LLC. Giokas claimed that Trinity Council was a fund that invested in private corporations; that investments were guaranteed to earn interest between eight and nine percent per year; and that investment principal was guaranteed. The defendant also provided a fraudulent promissory note to one of his clients to convince the client that his investment in Trinity Council was legitimate.
Trinity Council was actually a shell company that engaged in no investment or business activity. Giokas was the sole member and only owner of Trinity Council, and the only person with signature authority on its bank accounts, which the defendant opened for the purpose of executing this scheme to defraud.
In a separate scheme, between 2015 and October 2017, Giokas prompted Nationwide to transfer money from his clients’ Nationwide accounts to the defendant under the guise of “fee requests.” Giokas claimed that he was entitled to the requested money as investment advisory fees, despite the fact that the requested amounts greatly exceeded what the defendant was entitled to pursuant to his fee agreements with his clients.
As a result of the two schemes, Giokas defrauded clients out of $1,473,396.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin P. Lyons.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 20, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Arcara.