A former advisor facing severe financial difficulties was sentenced to two years in prison for swindling a client while employed at PNC Bank.
Paul Schuerger, 45, of Champaign, Illinois, lured the client into investing $100,000 in what he claimed was a private placement bond that would earn 10% interest for five years but instead deposited the money into his personal bank account, according to documents filed in federal court.
In less than a month, Schuerger spent most of the $100,000 for his own benefit, primarily to pay off his personal debts, prosecutors said.
He tried to avoid detection of his scheme and "lull the client into a false sense of security" by providing the client with monthly payments of $833 from April 2012 to March 2016, which Schuerger then deposited into a PNC Bank branch, according to his indictment.
"As a result of the defendant's scheme to defraud and fraudulent representations, the defendant exposed [the client] to a potential loss of approximately $100,000 of which he was unaware," prosecutors charged Schuerger in court papers.
Schuerger also represented to the client that in the event the investment defaulted he would convey to the client full equity rights in two properties with equity values totaling $155,000. In fact, he did not have equity interest of $155,000 in those properties, according to prosecutors.
Schuerger pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in October 2017. He filed for bankruptcy in May 2016.
Schuerger, who is free on bond pending notice as to where to report to begin serving his sentence, could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Elisabeth Pollock, a federal public defender, did not respond to email and telephone messages seeking comment.
In addition to a two-year prison sentence, Schuerger faces three years of supervised release and will have to pay $100,000 in restitution to his victim.
Schuerger worked for PNC Investments from September 2010 to May 2012, when he was permitted to resign following his admission that entered into a $100,000 personal loan agreement with a client, according to his BrokerCheck report.
He was barred by FINRA in June 2013 for refusing to comply with an investigation into PNC's allegations regarding his personal loan agreement with the client, BrokerCheck records show.
Diane Zappas, a spokeswoman for PNC, declined to comment on the matter.