Ex-Financial Adviser Pleads Guilty to Unauthorized Trading Involving Disabled Children’s Assets

Charles Winitch has pleaded guilty to involvement in a securities fraud scam that victimized disabled children. In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the ex-financial adviser and “wealth manager” entered a guilty plea to the charge of wire fraud involving unauthorized trading for commissions. While federal prosecutors and United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara did not name the financial firm that Winitch had been working for at the time, The New York Daily News identified him in 2008 as a stockbroker with Morgan Stanley.

WInitch is accused of taking $198,784 from a trust held by the guardians of disabled children called the Guardian Account. The trust, which is supposed to provide children with long-term income and comes from the youths’ medical malpractice settlements, was only supposed to invest in New York Municipal Bonds or US Treasury Bonds. However, Winitch made unauthorized trades in 11 accounts in the millions of dollars to generate higher commissions even though he lacked the authority or consent to take such actions. According to Bharara, Winitch and co-conspirators made about $198,000 in ill-gotten commissions. Meantime, the fund lost somewhere between $400,000 and $1 million.

Winitch’s criminal defense lawyer says that the former stockbroker did not know that the accounts contained the money of disabled kids. The ex-Morgan Stanley broker is facing up to 63 months behind bars, hefty fines, forfeiture of ill-gotten gains, and restitution.

Related Web Resources:
‘Wealth Manager’ Stole from Disabled Kids, Courthouse News Service, December 14, 2010
Morgan Stanley Advisor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Disabled Children, OnWallStreet, December 17, 2010
Institutional Investor Securities Blog

Throughout the US, Shepherd, Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP represents individual and institutional investors that have suffered financial losses because of securities fraud.