A former financial adviser with Huntington National Bank who embezzled more than $265,000 from elderly clients was sentenced today to one day in prison and five years of supervised release.
Bryan Carnahan worked for Huntington National Bank in Hilliard, Ohio, as an adviser and retail investment senior team leader. He pleaded guilty to embezzlement in federal court in October 2015.
Carnahan misappropriated a total of $268,680 from the brokerage accounts of five clients ranging in age from 75 to 94 years old. He diverted the bulk of the money—$230,414—to the accounts of other brokerage clients who posted losses in their municipal bond investments, according to court documents.
One of the victims was terminally ill and has since died, as did two other victims. His grandmother was also among the five people he cheated, the prosecutor claimed.
“His conduct can best be described as a money-shifting scheme to make investment returns look better than they actually were,” Brenda Shoemaker, the assistant U.S. attorney wrote in the government's sentencing memorandum.
Carnahan used the remaining $38,266 for his own personal use, depositing the funds into his checking account to pay for credit card and other bills.
The misconduct occurred from April 2012 to March 2015.
The prosecutor chided Carnahan for abusing his position of trust as a financial adviser to his elderly clients. “Carnahan was not authorized to use the victims’ money for his personal use or the use of other Huntington Investment Company customers,” Shoemaker wrote. She noted that as a retail investment senior team leader, Carnahan was under substantially less supervision than other employees and was able to continue his misconduct without being noticed for years.
Carnahan’s attorney, Dennis Belli of Columbus, Ohio, disputed the total amount of the theft, saying that $51,159 that Carnahan took from his grandmother should not have been included. Belli claimed that Carnahan’s grandmother did not consider herself a victim of her grandson’s activity. “She has advised Bryan’s former employer in writing that she does not seek and does not expect reimbursement from the bank,” he wrote in Carnahan’s sentencing memorandum.
Carnahan joined Huntington in December 1998. He was discharged in March 2015 for his criminal conduct, according to BrokerCheck records.
“We’re unable to comment on personnel issues, including former employees, but we have zero tolerance for such behavior,” said Seth Seymour, a spokesman for Huntington. “This was an isolated incident, and we cooperated fully with investigators. Customer privacy and security are always our top priority.”
Huntington Bank has reimbursed the victims and their estates, according to court documents.
Belli urged the judge to go easy on Carnahan, noting that he suffered from depression and a mood disorder, which adversely affected his judgment during his tenure as a financial adviser, he said.
Carnahan, he added, was extremely remorseful about his misconduct and has tried to redirect his life. He sees a mental health counselor weekly and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly, he said in the court
"Bryan recognizes there is no excuse for violating the law, and he offers none in this case," Belli wrote. "He acknowledges his culpability for jeopardizing the mental and financial well-being of his clients. He also recognizes the emotional, psychological, and financial trauma that he has caused his own family."
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