(CSBJ) Sonya D. Camarco of Colorado Springs has been sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison, according to a news release issued today by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.
Camarco, 46, received 10 years for one count of securities fraud and 10 years for one count of theft over $100,000. A probation sentence of 20 years was also given for one count of filing false tax returns, to be served concurrently with the prison sentence, according to the release.
“Camarco, who was a licensed investment adviser representative and sales representative with LPL Financial, pleaded guilty to these charges after a Colorado Grand Jury Indictment charged her with diverting over $1.8 million in client funds for personal use between January 2013 and May 2017,” the release said.
The charges were the result of the investigative efforts of the Colorado Division of Securities, part of DORA. The case was prosecuted by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
“This sentencing sends a clear message that fraud committed by securities professionals will be prosecuted and punished,” Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in the release. “My office will continue to work collaboratively with our enforcement partners at the Colorado Division of Securities to protect Coloradan investors from predators in the financial market.”
Carmarco became an investment adviser representative and registered representative for LPL Financial beginning in February 2004, according to DORA.
According to its website, LPL Financial claims to be the “largest independent broker/dealer in the country, supporting more than 14,000 financial advisors.”
Following an internal investigation conducted by LPL Financial in July of 2017 regarding a suspicious check drawn on a client account, the news release said, it was discovered that numerous checks had been drawn on several accounts belonging to Camarco’s clients payable to an account controlled by Camarco.
“Further inquiry by LPL Financial uncovered that Carmaco was endorsing checks from clients’ accounts made payable to an account she controlled,” the news release said. “She deposited them into accounts for which she was the signatory. Clients did not authorize investment of their funds into Camarco’s accounts. LPL Financial then terminated Carmarco’s employment.
“It was discovered that funds deposited into the Camarco Investments account were used by Camarco for various personal expenditures such as credit card payments, real estate, taxes, and automobile expenses.”
According to the release, Camarco did not return funds to investors, nor did she disclose to investors — one of whom was an elderly woman with dementia — that she was placing their money in the Camarco Investments account for her own use.
“Cases involving securities professionals that we license and who are accused of theft of client funds are a top enforcement priority for us,” Colorado Securities Commissioner Gerald Rome said in the release. “Professionals who hold these trusted positions, but who nevertheless commit these types of crimes should know that the resulting penalty will be severe.”
In addition to the Department of Corrections sentence, Camarco has been ordered to pay $1,840,837.46 in restitution to her victims.