A former Wells Fargo broker and investment advisor has been charged with robbing five clients of more than $3 million and using the money for gambling and buying gold and luxury gifts, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.
Kenneth A. Welsh, 42, of River Edge, N.J., was indicted on Wednesday by a federal grand jury in New Jersey on four counts of wire fraud and one count of investment advisor fraud. The arraignment date has not yet been determined.
Each of the wire fraud counts carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The investment advisor fraud count carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, the indictment said.
A civil case against Welsh, filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in October 2021, is also pending, according to BrokerCheck.
Welsh worked at Wells Fargo’s Fairfield branch from September 2012 until June 2021, when he was fired by the firm. The court document said that from July 2017 through March 2021, Welsh fraudulently transferred $2,596,394 from the five victims’ brokerage accounts to accounts in the names of his relatives and periodically used the money for gambling and luxury gifts.
He also forged or manipulated purported distribution request forms, causing cashier’s checks to be drawn against the victims’ brokerage accounts. These checks, totaling about $268,740, were used to buy gold, the court said.
In one instance, one client lost about $1,815,800 as a result of 74 wire transactions prompted by Welsh from around December 2018 through around March 2021. The court said the money was filtered to his family accounts. The court further noted that around the same time, Welsh authorized the transfer of funds that caused two cashier’s checks totaling $41,201 to be drawn from the client’s brokerage account.
The clients were unaware of the transactions, and at least one of the clients received a bogus account statement from Welsh, purporting to show that his assets were in legitimate investments. But the money had already been misappropriated, the court said.
Welsh could not be reached for comment.
He began his career in 2004 with Morgan Stanley, joining Wells Fargo in 2012, according to BrokerCheck, which also disclosed the settlements of several customer complaints relating to the theft allegations. One complaint in February 2022 was settled for $5.85 million.