A former Wells Fargo broker and investment advisor is facing civil and criminal charges for allegedly raiding the accounts of his advisory clients and brokerage customers of nearly $3 million and using the money, for among other things, to secretly buy gold coins and other precious metals.

The SEC has filed a complaint alleging that Kenneth A. Welsh, 41, a River Edge, N.J. resident who worked at the Wells Fargo’s Fairfield branch, misappropriated at least $2.86 million from the accounts of multiple clients and customers, some of whom were senior citizens and financially unsophisticated.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. announced criminal charges against Welsh.

The SEC complaint said between at least January 2016 and January 2021 Welsh transferred funds from his clients’ and customers’ accounts to credit card accounts held in the names of his wife and parents that he controlled for his personal expenses.

Welsh also alleged caused numerous checks to be fraudulently drawn on his clients’ and customers’ accounts, which he secretly used to buy gold coins and other precious metals, luxury goods, and make electronic fund transfers to himself, the SEC said.

Specifically, the complaint said Welsh fraudulently obtained at least 14 checks drawn on clients’ and customers’ accounts at Wells Fargo, misappropriating at least $268,740 from these checks. The complaint said in at least seven cases, the checks were used to buy gold coins and other precious metals, which he kept for himself.

The complaint further alleges that Welsh frequently sold securities in his clients’ and customers’ accounts, sometimes days apart from the transfers, to generate cash for himself. In one instance, he directed a transaction on July 3, 2019, in which he sold bonds from a customer’s brokerage account for about $26,000 and, and on the same day, made a fraudulent transfer of about $27,000 from the account to a credit card account held in his father’s name, the complaint said.

All transactions in the clients’ and customer’s accounts were done without their knowledge, and Welsh intentionally circumvented Wells Fargo’s policies and procedures to carry out the transfers, including by manually altering checks, the complaint said.

Based on the allegations, Wells Fargo fired Welsh in June, according to BrokerCheck. His profile reflects three pending customer complaints relating to the theft allegations.

Welsh, who began his career at Morgan Stanley in 2004, had been with Wells Fargo since in 2012. He could not be reached for comment.

The SEC’s complaint charges Welsh with violations of the antifraud provisions of federal securities laws and seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest and civil penalties.