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Investment broker's plea deal erases 20 felony counts

January 25, 2016

An Indianapolis man accused of multiple felony securities fraud counts has reached a plea agreement with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.

Robert E. Wilson, who previously operated Wellington Institutional Management, was charged in August 2014 with 10 counts of securities fraud and 10 counts of being an unregistered broker-dealer. Prosecutors said his clients lost $400,000.

All those counts were dropped, according to the plea agreement filed last month. Wilson in turn has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conversion, a class A misdemeanor. Under the previous charges, Wilson potentially faced two to eight years in prison. He'll serve six months of non-reporting probation under the plea agreement.

"This plea can be viewed by many as a big break," Wilson's attorney, Robert Hammerle of Pence Hensel LLC, said. "But it really still is something that others would view as a mammoth concession, and a difficult pill to swallow."

Officials from the Marion County Prosecutor's Office declined on Monday morning to comment on the agreement, since it had not yet been approved by the court.

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," the prosecutor's office said.

Hammerle said his client sat down personally with investors to explain the operation. Referring to the investment losses, Hammerle said, "While he understood people being upset, he was adamant that there was no crime that occurred here."

The plea agreement also calls for Wilson to liquidate the remaining assets held by Palladium, an amount that Hammerle said hadn't been determined. Wilson is barred from being a securities dealer in the state indefinitely, Hammerle said.

The plea agreement said the state would not object to Wilson requesting to have the charge expunged after one year, if he satisfied the terms of the agreement. 

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