Dallas Broker Sentenced in Securities Fraud Case

A Dallas, Texas, securities broker has been sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution after pleading guilty to one count of securities fraud.

Wade Lawrence, 43, worked as a broker in the Dallas office of Oppenheimer & Co., Inc., from June 2008 until July 2011. According to court documents, he began losing significant amounts of money in his client accounts and his individual trading account in 2010 and 2011. In August 2011, Lawrence left Oppenheimer to work at Southwest Securities in Dallas, where his trading losses continued.

Prosecutors said that between January 2012 and September 2013, Lawrence engineered a scheme to defraud individual investors by offering fraudulent investments for sale to personal and business associates. The purported investments included options on the Volatility Index (VIX) on the Chicago Board Options Exchange, securities investments in Facebook and Southwest Securities, and real estate investments in a duplex.

Lawrence had the investors wire funds to his personal account at Wells Fargo Bank instead of into a Southwest Securities account, telling investors he was attempting to start his own VIX fund. In addition, he purportedly told investors they could expect returns on the investments of between 20 and 100 percent.

Court records say that instead of investing the funds obtained for investment purposes, Lawrence spent several hundred thousand dollars on personal expenses, including mortgage payments on his Dallas home, travel and jewelry. He obtained more than $2.1 million from investors, and returned approximately $581,034 to some of the investors.

In addition to the prison sentence and restitution, Lawrence has also been ordered to forfeit $126,074 in proceeds tied to the fraud.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a boutique law firm focusing on large, complex business and criminal financial-related litigation, including white collar criminal defense, securities fraud, health care fraud investigation, criminal appeals and state criminal defense. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or dan@cogdell-law.com.