Former Ameriprise broker Jennifer Guelinas was ordered on Thursday to pay $1.1 million in restitution to the brokerage and spend a year under house arrest for bilking an elderly client of over $800,000. The sentencing was handed down by at the U.S. District Court for the northern district of Indiana.
Guelinas, 45, plead guilty last May to one felony count of wire fraud for funneling money from a clients account for unauthorized investments including real estate, a restaurant and personal expenses. From 2006 to 2010, she forged the signature of a now 79-year-old client multiple times to transfer funds to her own business accounts, according to a statement filed by her attorney, Jeffrey Schlesinger.
The victim of Defendants crime was vulnerable due to his age and his wifes failing health during the commission of the offense, said Jill Koster, assistant U.S. district attorney, in her sentencing memorandum. Defendants crime caused the victim and his family who placed significant trust in her substantial emotional and financial distress.
Guelinas must repay Ameriprise $1,122,540, the amount that the firm already reimbursed the victim when the crime was discovered. In March, FINRA imposed a $750,000 fine on Ameriprise for allegedly failing to adequately supervise the wire transfer requests and transfer of funds. In addition to house arrest, Guelinas was sentenced to four years of probation and her brokerage licenses have been revoked. According to sentencing documents, Koster sought a lesser sentence than what is usually called for in cases like these because of the defendants cooperation, agreement to pay the full amount owed and her personal background.
We believe it was a fair sentence, Schlesinger said on his clients behalf. She fully and completely accepted responsibility and is very sorry about it.
Prior to being terminated from Ameriprise in 2010, Guelinas had been with the firm for 19 years and had over 400 clients. An investigation by Ameriprise found one other instance where a customer had been defrauded by Guelinas of $11,000. The firm was unable to provide additional details, and that victim was not included as part of this conviction.
Were pleased to have resolved this matter from several years ago, a spokesperson for Ameriprise said in an emailed statement.