An Indianapolis man faces 20 felony charges for selling securities to investors as an unregistered broker, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced Wednesday.
Robert E. Wilson, 54, who operated locally based Wellington Institutional Management LCC, was charged Tuesday in Marion County Court with 10 counts of securities fraud and 10 counts of being an unregistered broker-dealer. Curry said Wilson's clients lost $400,000.
The charges are Class C felonies and each carries a potential punishment of two to eight years in prison.
Curry said an investigation revealed Wilson sold securities to 10 individuals or couples even though he wasn't registered as a broker-dealer with the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, as required by law.
James A. Klimek, Wilson's Fisher-based attorney, said Wilson would fight the charges.
"The state has been conducting an investigation of this matter for over two years, during which time Mr. Wilson has adamantly maintained his innocence of any violation of Indiana securities law," Klimek said Wednesday night in a written statement. "In their attempt to build a case against Mr. Wilson, the Indiana Securities Division engaged in several serious violations of his rights under the United States Constitution. We will vigorously defend Mr. Wilson against the state's allegations."
Klimek's statement did not explain how Wilson's rights might have been violated.
Wilson was released Wednesday from Marion County Jail on bond.
Wellington Institutional Management, which had an office at 9000 Keystone Crossing, offered two investment funds that were targeted by the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office Securities Division: The Wellington Market Equity Fund LLC and the Palladium Investors Fund LLC. The investigation started as an audit in 2011.
Investigators said minimum investments in the Wellington Market Equity Fund were $50,000. Investors "were told that Wilson’s computer program could perform stock market trades more quickly and more rationally than a stock broker, leading to potentially greater returns on their investment," Curry's office said.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson issued a statement saying Wilson's program was another case of "If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is."
"Our office was already aware of these high-frequency trading scams made popular on Wall Street similar to the computer software Wilson allegedly promoted," Lawson said. "If one person would have called our office to see if he was registered to sell investments, we would have investigated and could have prevented these devastating losses."
Curry emphasized that potential investors should check with the Secretary of State's online database to make sure investment advisers and products are licensed before investing.