LIVINGSTON, NJ — An investment broker from Livingston was sentenced to prison Sept. 13 for stealing $270,283 from an elderly couple by deceiving them into investing in a fictitious investment program, according to a press release from N.J. Attorney Gen. Gurbir Grewal.
Michael Alan Siegel, 62, of Livingston, was sentenced to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Verna G. Leath in Essex County. He pleaded guilty on June 24 to an accusation charging him with second-degree theft by deception. He must pay full restitution to the woman whose funds he stole; her husband is now deceased.
Siegel befriended the couple prior to becoming their investment broker. When he started working for a brokerage firm in 2013, he convinced the couple to transfer their investment accounts, which totaled well over $2 million, to his new employer. When Siegel moved to another brokerage firm in the spring of 2014, the couple again transferred their investments so Siegel could manage them.
Beginning around January 2014, Siegel encouraged the couple to invest in what he called an “options” program, which he characterized as a safe institutional trading program for preferred customers. He further convinced the couple that they needed to make their checks for investments in the program payable to him. The couple provided Siegel with 49 checks totaling $270,283 to invest in the program. In fact, the options program was entirely fictitious and Siegel used those monies for his personal benefit.
After her husband died in 2015, the woman investor and her daughter, who also invested through Siegel, began to question the management of their investments by Siegel and the firms where he worked. On Oct. 28, 2016, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred Siegel from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity. Following the FINRA ruling, the Bureau of Securities initiated its investigation of Siegel.
“Investors count on their brokers to act with honesty and integrity in managing their investments, but Siegel callously betrayed the trust of his victims by stealing over a quarter of a million dollars from them,” Grewal said. “We are committed to protecting New Jersey’s investors by holding dishonest brokers accountable through civil actions as well as criminal prosecutions, where appropriate.”
“This is an especially egregious case of investment fraud because of the way that Siegel exploited his friendship with the elderly victims to deceive them,” Division of Criminal Justice Director Veronica Allende said. “We will continue to work with the Bureau of Securities to protect investors and ensure that dishonest brokers like Siegel face justice.”