A suburban financial adviser was sentenced Tuesday to 55 months in federal prison for stealing about $900,000 from a client to fund his lifestyle.
Between Nov. 2012 and Feb. 2017, William Carlson Jr. carried out the “scheme to defraud” and steal money from his client by diverting funds from her account and forging her signature on checks and documents, according to a federal complaint from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
During that time, Carlson served as a partner and investment adviser at an unnamed company based in west suburban Lincolnshire, prosecutors said. He also worked out of the company’s office in west suburban Lombard.
Carlson was responsible for providing financial advice to his client and overseeing the accounts she held at an unnamed brokerage company, prosecutors said.
Carlson repeatedly provided his client with false balances and fraudulent account statements, prosecutors said. On Feb. 3, Carlson emailed his client a statement for her investment account with the brokerage firm that showed $884,928 in the account as of Jan. 16. However, there was only $48 in the account at that time.
Less than a week later, the FBI recorded Carlson’s meeting with a company compliance officer wherein he admitted to siphoning money from the client’s account for roughly five years, prosecutors said.
“You know, it starts out small,” Carlson said during the conversation. “You think you are going to pay it back.”
Carlson added that he had not taken money from any other client accounts, and targeted this client’s account “because it was easy,” prosecutors said.
During the conversation, Carlson gave the compliance officer a $200,000 personal check as partial repayment for the money he’d taken from her account, and agreed to sign a promissory note to cover the rest of the money that had been taken, prosecutors said. On Feb. 10, he replaced the personal check with a cashier’s check for the same amount.
That same day, Carlson began a series of interviews with FBI agents where he admitted to the fraud scheme, prosecutors said.
Carlson told the agents that he caused his client’s checks to be made payable to the account of an unnamed friend, who had no knowledge of the fraud, prosecutors said. Carlson paid the friend $300 or $400 for each time he cashed a check from the victim.
On Feb. 17, the victim told FBI agents that she never authorized Carlson to take money from her account for his own personal benefit, or to issue checks from her account payable to anyone except her, prosecutors said. The victim noted that any time there was an issue with her account, Carlson blamed the brokerage company.
Carlson’s company later transferred over $1 million to repay the victim for the funds that were take, as well as recouping other factors, such a lost interest and market gains, prosecutors said.
On Aug. 24, Carlson pleaded guilty to a single county of mail fraud, prosecutors said. He was sentenced Tuesday to 55 years in prison, as well as one year of supervised release. In addition, he was ordered to pay $911,000 in restitution.