The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an emergency court order freezing the assets of an Illinois money manager who is charged with stealing millions from clients' retirement plans.

According to the SEC, money manager Timothy J. Roth stole approximately $6 million worth of shares from his clients' mutual funds. He then liquidated the shares and sent the money to various accounts and companies under his control, the SEC says.

Roth worked out of the Urbania, Ill.-office of the New Jersey-based registered investment advisory firm Comprehensive Capital Management Inc., where he was employed from 2002 until his termination in February 2011. The SEC claims that from October 2010 through February 2011, Roth stole mutual fund shares from several employee deferred compensation plans for which he provided investment advice by transferring shares to accounts under his control without the authorization of the plans' participants. After selling the shares, Roth then funneled the proceeds into various accounts and companies under his control, including Champaign, Ill.-based KeyOp Exercise Inc. and Mezolink Inc., where he served as CEO. He also funneled the proceeds into two subsidiaries of Optimum Interactive Ltd., where he served in various positions, including director, CEO, secretary, treasurer and president.

Roth then sent plan participants fraudulent account statements, deliberately omitting the transfer of shares and overstating the account holdings, the SEC says.

The court's freeze order extends to the assets of the companies under Roth's control, which have been named as relief defendants in the case. The court has also issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Roth from violating the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws.

Preliminary hearings have been set for March 30, 2011, at a U.S. District Court in Peoria, Ill.