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Ex-Commonwealth Advisor May Face 20 Years in Prison

Gerald A. Eaton pleaded guilty to stealing client funds and faces up to 20 years in prison.

A former Commonwealth advisor based in Acton, Mass., has pleaded guilty to one count each of wire and mail fraud and identity theft. Gerald Eaton, 51, was accused of stealing over $3.7 million in client funds, according to the Department of Justice’s announcement.

Between 1999 and 2019, Eaton, who held the Certified Financial Planner designation, defrauded at least 15 clients out of money and property by mishandling investment accounts and insurance policies he managed. He forged his clients’ signatures on account-related documents and checks and used the stolen funds to pay for personal expenses on his credit card and toward a home equity line of credit.

The Acton advisor would often target his most vulnerable clients: individuals who were either elderly or suffering from poor health, according to the Justice Department.

Eaton faces up to 20 years in prison for mail and wire fraud. Once he has served his sentence, he will undergo three years of supervised release and must pay $250,000 in fines. The aggravated identity theft comes with an additional fine of $250,000 and restitution.

The Securities and Exchange Commission barred Eaton from the industry and from offering or promoting any form of penny stock.

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