MN Investment Advisor Sentenced To 10 Yrs. For Fraud

Mark Holt, also a recently disbarred attorney, had pleaded guilty to stealing more than $4 million from investment clients from 2005 to 2013.

A Minnesota investment advisor, securities broker and recently disbarred attorney who was accused of stealing more than $4 million from clients was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison.

Mark Holt, 45, of Vadnais Heights, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in April in U.S. District Court in St. Paul. The U.S. Attorney’s office said Holt operated a fraud scheme for at least eight years, using criminal proceeds to fund lavish personal expenses.

Holt, who owned Harbor Investment Planning Group since 2002, persuaded investors to hand over more than $4 million between 2005 and 2013 under the guise of him directing their money into legitimate long-term investments.

According to Holt’s guilty plea, he expected clients not to draw on those funds for many years. He meanwhile placed that money into a Harbor Group bank account he opened in 2005.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Holt used multiple schemes to defraud clients over time. This included making monthly annuity or interest payments, providing false portfolio fact sheets and creating online accounts for clients using a web-based portal that displayed and sent weekly email updates showing fraudulent account balances.

“Far too often, investment advisors are caught defrauding their clients,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in a statement. “This defendant was an attorney during the time that he was stealing from his clients. He not only engaged in criminal activity by stealing from his clients, he eroded public trust in our profession.”

As part of his sentence, Holt is also ordered to pay more than $2.9 million in restitution. In July, the Minnesota Department of Commerce also fined Holt $300,000 for defrauding investors, many of whom it said were elderly.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Holt used investors’ money to purchase a White Bear Lake Yacht Club membership, luxury cars and stays at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Holt also used some of the stolen money to make Ponzi payments to victims, the office said.