Court of Appeal upholds sentence and conviction

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The United States Court of Appeals upheld both the conviction and sentence of a former East Stroudsburg financial planner who defrauded his clients.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Intermediate District of Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, September 19, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld both the conviction and the 17½-year sentence of Anthony Diaz , 54, formerly of East Stroudsburg.

Officials say Diaz was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion on March 26, 2021, after Diaz was found guilty by a jury of multiple counts of wire fraud and mail fraud.

US Attorney Gerard M. Karam said that between around 2008 and April 2015, Diaz owned and operated Financial Planners Group of America, a financial planning firm based in East Stroudsburg and Scotrun.

According to law enforcement, Diaz allegedly persuaded his clients to invest in high-risk “alternative investment products.” This included real estate investment trusts, business development companies, oil and gas drilling companies and equipment rental companies.

Police said Diaz would convince clients to invest their savings in “alternative investments” through a series of misrepresentations, including that the investments were low risk, with guaranteed protection of their investment and a guaranteed rate of return. on investment.

After being found guilty of these crimes, Diaz appealed his conviction with a large number of challenges to his sentence as well, leading the Court of Appeals to state, “On appeal, parties sometimes throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. Here, nothing is right.

The Court of Appeal found that the government properly presented evidence and proved the full extent of Diaz’s scheme to defraud multiple clients.

According to a press release, former Diaz employees testified that they were ordered to cover up his firings and lie to clients about his changes between brokers. Diaz was also suspended by the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards in 2013 and is under investigation by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, both institutions eventually barred Diaz from the securities industry in 2015.

In affirming Diaz’s sentence, the Court of Appeals upheld a sentence handed down by the district court for defrauding at least 25 victims. The court also upheld four other sentence enhancements for participating in a scheme involving sophisticated means, violating securities laws, having an aggravating role in inciting others to engage in criminal activity and obstructing justice for committing perjury while testifying during the trial.

The Court of Appeals found Diaz’s sentence substantially reasonable, noting that the district court sentenced him to more than four years below its advisory guidelines.

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