Ex-JPMorgan adviser gets five years in prison for embezzling $20 million

Tue Mar 8, 2016 3:37pm EST
 
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former JPMorgan Chase & Co investment adviser was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday after admitting that he stole at least $20 million from client accounts to fund a gambling addiction and to trade in stock options.

Michael Oppenheim, 49, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres to forfeit almost $20.2 million and pay restitution to JPMorgan after pleading guilty in November to charges of embezzlement and securities fraud.

According to U.S. prosecutors and securities regulators, Oppenheim worked with about 500 wealthy clients as a vice president and private client adviser in JPMorgan's midtown Manhattan offices.

Prosecutors said that from 2008 to 2015, Oppenheim persuaded clients to let him withdraw some of their money, in some cases millions of dollars, falsely claiming he would invest it in low-risk municipal bonds.

In other cases, Oppenheim, who lived in Livingston, New Jersey, simply took their money without permission, prosecutors said.

In court papers, Oppenheim's lawyer, Paul Shechtman, had urged Torres to be lenient in sentencing, saying his crime, while serious, was fueled by a "pathological gambling addiction that has haunted him for much of his adult life."

At the time of Oppenheim's initial arrest in April 2015, JPMorgan issued a statement saying it had alerted U.S. authorities to the matter, noting that it was "angry that this person violated the trust our clients place in us."

The case is U.S. v. Oppenheim, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-548.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Chris Reese)

 
Former investment adviser at JPMorgan Chase & Co Michael Oppenheim exits U.S. federal courthouse in Manhattan, New York November 5, 2015.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid