A purported investment adviser has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for embezzling money from three clients, including a man in a wheelchair he threatened to kill when asked the man asked for his funds.
According to a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York, Gregg Brie, who has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, took more than $640,000 from three clients, two of whom were neighbors in his White Plains, New York, apartment complex.
His first victim was a man in a wheelchair who lived on a fixed income. He gave Brie approximately $480,000 to invest in airline operator Alaska Air Group. Brie told the client that Alaska Airlines’ share price was going to rise to $100 a share, and that he would invest the funds initially through a brokerage account Brie claimed he had with an unnamed broker/dealer (B/D). He also told the client that he could recoup his money once Alaska Air Group shares rose to $85.50 per share.
Brie eventually told the client that the value of his Alaska Air Group shares had ballooned to more than $8 million, but when the client asked for the money, Brie made various excuses for why he couldn’t get it. Brie even said his accounts had been frozen because the stockbrokers might have done something “sketchy” to acquire the shares at a lower price.
The client, who became increasingly worried about his money, began recording his phone conversations with Brie. And, according to court documents, on one of the recordings Brie told the client that he would “murder” him if he attempted to contact the B/D firm again. He repeated this threat at least two more times, adding that it was to be taken “literally, not metaphorically.”
Brie’s second victim made three loans totaling approximately $157,000 to produce and distribute “a proprietary, composite unimold commode” for use in Uganda. And the third victim loaned Brie $2,000 on Brie’s representation that he was illiquid because he had put all of his cash into the unimold commode project.
According to the FBI’s analysis of bank accounts controlled by Brie, there was no brokerage account, and no evidence that investments were made in Alaska Air or into any firm producing commodes. The FBI said the money Brie received from his victims was used mainly to pay off credit cards and a lease on a Mercedes Benz.
In addition to the prison term, Brie, 54, has been ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay forfeiture and restitution, each in the amount of more than $640,000.