A former Michigan financial advisor has been sentenced to seven to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to spending $3 million of his clients’ money on his own personal expenses and to run a Ponzi scheme, according to local reporting.
Ernest Romer III, of Shelby Township, Mich., pleaded guilty to embezzlement and stealing from clients, according to ClickOnDetroit.com, the online local news portal from NBC TV.
Romer admitted to using some of the money to cover grocery and restaurant bills, but his victims allege he also used it for Super Bowl tickets, the news website writes.
In all, Romer stole from 13 families, according to NBC. During his sentencing hearing, Romer said he’s been earning $40,000 a month for a decade — and tried to pay back his clients, the website writes.
Certified financial planner Rod Meloni, one of NBC’s reporters on the story, says in the video accompanying the report that one of the victims said he would never have gone close to Romer if he had seen his record.
The former broker has 48 disclosures on his BrokerCheck record, racked up during a 23-year career in the industry.
His first disclosure dates back to 1995, just two years after he had started in the financial services industry, according to BrokerCheck. In November of that year, Romer was allowed to voluntarily resign from Independence One Brokerage Services following allegations he had borrowed and/or lent money from/to a customer in violation of the firm’s policy, according to his record.
This September, the SEC charged Romer with stealing more than $2.7 million from at least 30 investors.
Finra, meanwhile, had barred Romer from the industry in April 2017 for failing to respond to the industry self-regulator’s request for information.