A federal jury on Friday convicted an unregistered Carmel financial adviser of 66 counts of wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering following a four-day trial.
Jamie C. Lopez, 41, could face up to 20 years on each count of wire fraud, 10 years for money laundering and 20 years for securities fraud. No sentencing date has been set.
Prosecutors originally accused Lopez of taking an estimated $330,000 from investors from January 2010 to June 2012 and using the money for his own purposes, rather than investing it as promised. On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s office referred to “hundreds of thousands of dollars” that had been swindled from investors.
“Stealing from retirement accounts to fund a gratuitous lifestyle is about as low as you can go,” said U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler in a statement. “Hopefully word will get out that the consequences of greed include being hit with the hammer of the federal judicial system.”
According to the indictment, Lopez conducted business from his home in Carmel. He created various business names, JCL Interest Plus, JCL Capital Inc. and JCL Directs (JCL Entities) to direct retirement funds from the unsuspecting investors. Clients would transfer their Individual Retirement Accounts to self-directed accounts and then Lopez would transfer the money into JCL Entities under his control, prosecutors said.
Lopez used the money to buy automobiles, make mortgage payments and pay for home landscaping.
The Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit and the Indiana Secretary of State’s securities division investigated the case.
“Lopez was not registered to sell securities with my office, which is the number one red flag of fraud,” Secretary of State Connie Lawson said in a statement. “Instead of operating as a licensed professional, he preyed on people he knew through church and took advantage of their trust.”
Lawson urged investors to check their advisers’ credentials with the secretary of state’s office before handing over any money for an investment.