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Ex-broker pleads guilty to taking investors' money

Posted July 8, 2009

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— A former Chapel Hill stockbroker was placed on probation Monday after pleading guilty to several fraud-related charges in a securities scam, the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Securities Division said Wednesday.

Hugh Anthony Wilson, 52, of Morrisville, pleaded guilty to three counts of securities fraud and one count each of obtaining property by false pretenses, felonious larceny and violating securities rules. He was sentenced to three years in prison, which was suspended to three years on probation and 52 weekends in jail.

Wilson also was ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to one victim. Eight other victims have recouped their losses through Ameriprise Financial Services, where Wilson formerly worked, officials said.

The nine victims lost a total of $144,464 between late 2005 and early 2007. Wilson sold securities at Ameriprise in Chapel Hill and convinced several clients to write checks to him under the pretense of investing in options trading outside of the brokerage house on their behalf, officials said. Instead, he used the money for his personal spending, they said.

Wilson also sold some clients’ securities without their authorization and then transferred the funds out of their brokerage accounts for his benefit, officials said.

“Mr. Wilson abused his clients’ trust,” Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this case illustrates why it is so vitally important for investors to read their account statements carefully, and to always exercise an abundance of caution. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

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