A federal judge sentenced a former Rockland County, N.Y., financial advisor to 13 years in prison on Wednesday for running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that targeted family, friends and trusted community connections, according to a release from United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Hector May, 78, president of Executive Compensation Planners Inc. (ECP), a registered investment adviser and financial planning firm in New City, New York, defrauded clients out of $11.4 million during a period stretching from the late 1990s to March 2018, the release said.

In a prepared statement, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said May’s “conduct was marked by extreme cunning, ruthlessness, and utter disregard for the well-being of his victims, including aging couples, close friends, relatives, and an employment pension plan.” 

In addition to his prison term, May was ordered to serve three years of supervised release, pay $8,041,233 in restitution and forfeit $11,452,185.

Meanwhile, his daughter, Vania May Bell, 54, of Montvale, N.J., was charged on Thursday with participating in the conspiracy to rip off clients. Bell, who was the firm’s comptroller, was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, the release said. 

May served as president of ECP since 1992 and provided financial advisory services to numerous clients, according to the release. Since 1994, he was a registered representative of an unnamed broker-dealer who facilitated the buying and selling of securities for clients, according to the release. 

Because May lacked the authority to withdraw money directly from the victims’ broker-dealer accounts, May, with the assistance of his daughter, persuaded clients to withdraw money from the accounts themselves and to forward that money to an ECP custodial account so that he could use the money to purchase bonds on their behalf, prosecutors said.

May falsely represented that the funds being withdrawn from clients’ broker-dealer accounts were the proceeds of prior bond purchases that May had made, prosecutors said.

After the clients sent their money to the ECP custodial account, May and Bell spent the money on business expenses and personal expenses, and to make payments to certain clients in order to perpetuate the scheme and conceal the fraud.

In some cases, May used clients’ funds to make phony bond interest payments to other clients, according to prosecutors. In other cases, he used the funds to make payments to other clients who wanted to withdraw funds from their accounts, prosecutors said.

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