Ex-Merrill Broker to Reimburse Firm $1.1 Million in Theft Plea
A former Merrill Lynch broker pleaded guilty on Tuesday to stealing more than $1 million from two clients, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois.
Alec Rivera, who was charged with wire fraud in October, admitted to stealing $1,060,381 from the customers between October 2010 and October 2013. Merrill has reimbursed the customers, whose accounts Rivera invaded 106 times to make transfers to accounts he controlled as treasurer of a Chamber of Commerce office.
Rivera faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and has agreed to pay Merrill $1,060,381 in restitution.
Federal attorneys prosecuting the case recommended a lighter-than-maximum sentence. Rivera “clearly demonstrated a recognition and affirmative acceptance of personal responsibility for his criminal conduct,” the plea agreement said.
Rivera, who began his career at Merrill in 2008, transferred funds from his clients to Chicago Chamber of Commerce accounts held at BMO Harris Bank and Pacific Global bank, according to the document. He later wired money from the Chamber’s accounts to his personal accounts, using false account statements and notations such as “IRS Attorney Payment.”
He also had client statements sent to his home address, the plea said.
A spokesman at Merrill Lynch said in October that it has compensated the clients and that the firm cooperated with the investigation.
Merrill Lynch fired Rivera in October 2013 for misappropriating client funds, according to his BrokerCheck record. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred him from serving with any member firm a month after that for failing to respond to a request for information.