Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. and AXA Advisors Broker Charged in Ponzi Scheme Victimizing Church Members

Former Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. and AXA Advisors broker Kenneth Neely has pled guilty to one count of mail fraud for setting up a Ponzi scheme that targeted at least 16 investors. Yesterday, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced that she has shut down the scam.

The 56-year-old St. Peters, Missouri broker got his clients to invest in a bogus St. Charles real estate investment trust. He promised high return rates and “no risk,” raising over $640,000 in investor funds. Federal prosecutors say clients paid about $3,000/share or unit.

At the time Neely was committing securities fraud (from 2001 – July 2009) he worked for broker dealers AXA Advisors and Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. He told clients to make checks payable to him and his wife.

Missouri Securities Law makes it illegal for a broker to “sell away,” which involves selling investments off a firm’s books.

Neely has 30 days to respond to Missouri’s cease-and-desist order. Federal brokers have barred him from working as a broker. Investor victims that lost some $400,000 included people that belonged to his church, friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Some people lost their savings because of the Ponzi scheme. Nealy used some of the money to pay for his personal expenses and debt.

Neely’s sentencing is scheduled for January 2010. He faces up to 20 years in prison, restitution, and up to $250,000 in fines.

Related Web Resources:
Carnahan Uncovers Ponzi Scheme in Saint Charles, SOS.Mo.Gov, November 4, 2009
St. Peters broker admits Ponzi scheme, St. Louis Business Journal, November 4, 2009
FINRA Permanently Bars Former Broker for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc and AXA Advisors For Ponzi Scheme, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 3, 2009
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