Western New York Financial Advisor Pleads Guilty To Fraud

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that an Erie County man pled guilty for stealing more than $600,000 from clients by falsely promising to invest their money in a private investment portfolio when, in reality, he used that money to fund his own expenses and for other purposes.

Mark Pepe, 43, of West Seneca, owned and operated Asset Management Group, a firm specializing in recruiting investors for private ventures. Pepe pleaded guilty to two counts: Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class "C" felony; and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class "E" felony in Supreme Court, Erie County before the Honorable Richard C. Kloch.

"Those who work in financial services and advise clients must maintain the highest levels of professional integrity, said Spitzer. "When clients become victims of unscrupulous actions, my office will act to protect investors."

The defendant admitted to stealing $126,000 from a former client, claiming that he was investing the client’s money into various business enterprises. In fact, the vast majority of the money invested went into Pepe’s business account to cover overdrafts, or to pay off other investors. Pepe’s guilty plea to the Scheme to Defraud count related to similar "investments" he made on behalf of eight other investors.

Under the terms of the plea, the minimum sentence that Pepe can receive is six months in jail. He faces a maximum term of up to fifteen years in state prison. The defendant is required to make $500,000 restitution by the time of his sentence, which is scheduled for September 25.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Diane M. LaVallee of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, and supervised by William J. Comiskey Deputy Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. The Attorney General would like to acknowledge the assistance of: the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Buffalo Office; U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York; and the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Consumer Frauds.