WORCESTER - A Worcester-area investment advisor was charged Tuesday in federal court in Boston with defrauding clients by stealing their funds and using them to pay purported returns to other defrauded investors.
James Couture, 42, of Sutton, was charged with three counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
From 2009 to 2020, Couture allegedly misappropriated roughly $2.8 million from clients by transferring funds out of his clients’ accounts for investment in fictitious funds and using the money for other purposes, including to purchase a client list from another investment advisor, according to charging documents.
Couture also allegedly used client money to pay fake investment returns to other clients he had defrauded, including allegedly liquidating a client's variable annuities to fund withdrawals by another client. It's also alleged that in December 2019 and January 2020, Couture sold one client’s mutual funds and raided a 401(k) plan he managed to fund withdrawals by another client, whose assets Couture purported were held in a mutual fund account, when in fact neither the funds nor the account actually existed.
Couture will make an initial appearance in federal court at a later date.
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 charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory sentence of two years in prison to be served consecutive to any sentence imposed.