Morris County man stole $5M from family as financial adviser

CHESTER, NJ (Morris County) – A 50-year-old Morris County man was arrested Friday morning for allegedly defrauding multiple bank clients out of $5 million.

Barry Connell, of Chester, NJ was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly using his position as a financial adviser at a global financial institution based in New York City to defraud multiple Bank clients out of at least $5 million over a one-year period, Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced Friday.

Connell was arrested Friday morning in Henderson, Nevada, and was presented in federal court in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“As alleged, Barry Connell used his clients’ bank accounts as his own, siphoning off millions of dollars to pay for his extravagant lifestyle, including a country club membership and private jet expenses,” Bharara said.

“The reliability of our banking system is paramount to the success of our economy and ability of our markets to flourish. But when that confidence deteriorates because people allegedly breach the expectation of trust, we all suffer. There’s no excuse for this type of alleged crime, especially when a client’s hard-earned money is involved,” Sweeney said.

From December 2015 to November 2016, Connell, a former financial adviser at the Bank, effected numerous unauthorized transactions from five accounts belonging to a single family of Bank clients, and as a result defrauded the clients of at least approximately $5 million.

In some instances, Connell effected the fraudulent transactions by submitting Bank forms falsely stating that he had received client instructions authorizing wire transfers to third parties for the client’s benefit, when in fact he had not received client authorization and the wire transfers were for his own benefit. In other instances, he effected the fraudulent transactions by using one client’s checks, which had been intended only to pay the client’s bills, to instead pay for his own expenses.

Connell used the client funds to pay for numerous exorbitant personal expenses, including a year’s rent for a house near Las Vegas, country club membership fees, and private jet expenses. He also paid bills for a credit card account in his spouse’s name, and made payments for his own benefit to automobile dealerships, an entertainment company, and a yacht company.

If convicted of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, Connell faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense and for aggravated identity theft, he faces a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

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By: Jay Edwards
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