AWOL Wirehouse Broker from New Jersey Arrested in Nevada
A former Morgan Stanley broker in New Jersey who was on the lam after being fired for allegedly stealing $5 million from clients has been arrested in a Las Vegas suburb, according to federal law enforcement officials.
Barry F. Connell, 50, was charged with wire fraud and aggregative identity theft on Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York for stealing money from client accounts from December 2015 to November 2016, according to a statement from the district attorney and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Connell, who was fired by Morgan Stanley in November after eight years and who also worked for almost a decade at UBS Financial Services, has been missing from his Ridgewood, NJ, Morgan Stanley branch since last summer, sources told AdvisorHub last year. His complex manager, Jeffrey Crystal, who they said flagged the broker’s absence and use of his unlimited power of attorney over an elderly client’s account, is on leave from Morgan Stanley.
Connell used clients’ money to fund an extravagant lifestyle, including a country club membership, private jet service, and a year’s worth of rent, according to the federal officials. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 30 years and fine of twice the amount stolen.
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday simultaneously filed a civil case against Connell, charging him with siphoning money through 100 withdrawals from client accounts using falsified authorization forms and misrepresentations that he had received verbal authorization for the withdrawals, according to the regulator. The SEC said it is seeking disgorgement and civil penalties.
Morgan Stanley cooperated with law enforcement officials on the case and continues to do so, a spokeswoman said. She declined to comment on how the arrest may affect Crystal. The complex manager could not be reached for comment.
In their announcements, the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s office referred to Morgan Stanley as a “global bank” and “major financial institution,” but did not name it directly.
According to a disclosure on Connell’s BrokerCheck record, he was fired for “unauthorized withdrawals and transfers of funds from client’s household accounts to third-party payees, which appear to be for the benefit of the former registered representative.