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Former Ameriprise Rep Sentenced To 5 Years in Prison For $1.2M Fraud

Dusty Sternadel pleaded guilty to wire fraud in January in connection with a scheme that stole from at least 10 clients, most of whom were elderly, according to the DOJ.

A former Ameriprise advisor was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing more than $1.2 million from at least ten clients, according to the Justice Department.

Dusty Sternadel pleaded guilty to wire fraud in January and was sentenced on Friday by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas federal court. 

Sternadel joined the industry in 2011 with Edward Jones, according to her FINRA BrokerCheck profile. Based out of Wichita Falls, Texas, she joined Morgan Stanley in 2015 and stayed for four years before registering with Ameriprise in 2018.

Starting in September 2019 and for the following three years, Sternadel would defraud several Ameriprise clients by tricking them into sending her funds or checks, which she’d deposit into her accounts for personal use. 

In one case, Sternadel ordered a $26,916 interstate wire transfer from an unnamed victim’s brokerage account into that client’s personal checking account without the client’s knowledge. Sternadel told the client that Ameriprise accidentally initiated the transfer and instructed the client to write a check from their bank account for that amount. 

The client wrote Sternadel a $26,916 check, which the advisor deposited into her account, according to court documents detailing the charges against Sternadel. 

According to prosecutors, most of Sternadel’s victims were elderly, with several suffering from cognitive decline. The amounts stolen from each victim ranged from approximately $286,000 to around $40,000 (most of the sums were refunded by Ameriprise, according to the DOJ). 

O’Connor did not issue a fine as a part of the sentence but ordered Sternadel to forfeit all the property she gained using $120,000 of the stolen funds and a family home. O’Connor also mandated two years of supervised release after she finished her prison sentence, according to KFDX Fort Worth.

Sternadel was fired from Ameriprise in 2022 for “violation of company policies related to misappropriation of client funds,” according to FINRA records. The brokerage regulator permanently barred her several months later.

According to KFDX, Sternadel’s defense attorney, Russell Turkel, argued that the sentence was overly harsh and reminded the judge that Sternadel had come forward to tell Ameriprise about what she’d done.

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