James Ryan Lanier, a former Merrill Lynch advisor, has been arrested and charged with fraud, money laundering, and identify theft in connection to an alleged embezzlement scheme. Authorities allege that he stole more than $800,000 from his clients between 2008 and 2010.
According to the 65-count indictment, Lanier made a series of false claims and misrepresentations to convince client associates to wire transfer funds from his clients’ investment accounts into bank accounts under his control. He allegedly lied to the associates and told them that he obtained voice approval for the transfers from the clients on a recorded telephone line. He also allegedly forged client signatures in order to facilitate the transfers.
Lanier is accused of spending the stolen funds on vehicles and a condominium in Albany, Georgia. He also allegedly used the money to make loan payments and to invest in a cellular telecommunications business. He was arrested in San Diego, California, on August 9.
If convicted, Lanier could face up to 30 years in prison for each count of fraud, up to 10 years in prison for money laundering, and up to two years for aggravated theft. His formal arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 16 at 1:30 p.m. in Tallahassee. For additional information, click here.