An Independence financial adviser pleaded guilty Friday to a fraud scheme in which he stole more than $1 million from two elderly clients.
Kraig Gier, 59, pleaded guilty in federal court in Kansas City to two counts of wire fraud, admitting that he stole $879,602 and $208,362 from clients who were 96 and 84 years old. Gier faces up to 20 years in federal prison without parole on each count and will be sentenced at a later date.
“A trusted financial advisor greedily preyed on two unsuspecting elderly clients to illegally enrich himself,” U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison said in a release. “It’s criminal, but even more contemptible when those granted positions of trust take advantage of vulnerable victims, such as their elderly clients.”
According to court documents, Gier began making fraudulent withdrawals from the various investment accounts of these clients in February 2015, and he had the money deposited into either his personal checking account or his business account. This fraud scheme continued until July 2018.
Gier sometimes forged signatures on a withdrawal request, and at other times he would add with the withdrawal paperwork a fraudulent voided check with the victim’s name on it but with his personal or business account number as the intended recipient of the requested funds.
To cover up his fraudulent scheme, Gier admitted, he prepared false documentation purportedly from the financial company holding the the clients’ investment. It would fraudulently represent they were making a significant profit even though he had often significantly depleted their account.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Independence Police Department.