Sutton Investment Advisor Pleads Guilty to Fraud

 by Tom MarinoSeptember 8, 2022

WORCESTER - A local investment advisor pleaded guilty on Thursday, September 8, in federal court in Boston, to charges related to a scheme to steal over $2.8 million from six clients over more than a decade.

James Kenneth Couture, 42, of Sutton, pleaded guilty to four counts of both wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, as well as a single count of both investment adviser fraud and witness tampering.

Prosecutors say that from 2009 to 2020, Couture misappropriated the funds of clients by transferring funds out of his clients’ accounts, investing it in fictitious mutual funds and then selling other clients’ holdings to pay investment returns.

In 2016, Couture liquidated the variable annuity account of a client to fund withdrawals by another client. In December 2019 and January 2020, Couture paid a client he previously defrauded by selling the mutual funds of other clients.

To carry out these schemes, Couture forged clients’ signatures on documents, or caused clients to sign documents by falsely representing that the proceeds of transactions would be used for the clients’ benefit. Couture also stole from clients using their own profit-sharing plans and conducting transactions in their names to disguise his fraudulent transactions.

Charges were filed against Couture in June 2021. Since that time, prosecutors say he engaged in witness tampering by creating fake documents purported to be for his clients’ accounts and providing false information to at least one victim in the case for approximately six months. Couture was subsequently charged with witness tampering in connection with his efforts to deceive this victim on January 14, 2022.

The charges of wire fraud each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.

The charges of aggravated identity theft each provide for a mandatory consecutive term of two years in prison.

The charge of investment adviser fraud provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.

The charge of witness tampering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.

The judge in the case scheduled sentencing for January 11.

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