Former Ameriprise Advisor Receives 88-Month Prison Sentence, $1M Fine
On Monday, the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis sentenced former Ameriprise advisor Susan Elizabeth Walker to 88 months in prison for draining more than $1.1 million from at least two-dozen retirement accounts.
Walker, 51, and a resident of Plymouth, was convicted for one count each of mail fraud and tax evasion. She originally pled guilty in October of last year on both counts.
According to her guilty plea and court filings, Walker provided financial planning services through Ameriprise Financial Inc. between October 2008 and March 2013. Additionally, she was a securities agent with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and a financial advisor registered under the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
During that time, Walker opened investment brokerage accounts in her name and several of her client’s names without their knowledge. Walker then withdrew money from retirement accounts belonging to at least 24 of her clients and had that money concealed in the brokerage accounts that were under her use.
None of the money obtained through fraud was reported on her tax returns, which resulted in a $325,000 tax loss.
Instead, Walker used the money for her own personal use. Her payouts included a $1,000 Royal Caribbean Cruise, $4,000 for a “Marriott Vacation,” a $4,762 “Travelocity Vacation Package,” and $7,000 in private school tuition payments to Benilde-St. Margaret. Additionally, Walker’s scheme covered her payments for a Lexus and monthly rent, while also including thousands of dollars in cash withdrawals from ATMs in the Twin Cities, Las Vegas and Miami.
“Many of Walker’s victims were seniors who counted on her to manager their accounts responsibly,” said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman in a statement. “Instead she diverted their hard-earned savings to finance her own lavish lifestyle.”
In a release, assistant U.S. attorney Timothy Rank said that Walker’s victims would likely never be made financially whole again. However, court documents did note that Ameriprise reimbursed all 24 victims at the time of Walker’s guilty plea.
“Despite her attempts to cover her crimes, they were uncovered by the excellent work of the IRS, FBI and the Fraud Bureau of the Minnesota Department of Commerce,” said Rank.
On top of Walker’s 88-month prison sentence, she also received three years supervised release and $978,950 to be paid in restitution.