Former Westlake Investment Advisor Pleads Guilty To Ponzi Scheme

WESTLAKE, OH — A former Westlake investment advisor has pleaded guilty to stealing $9.3 million from clients, the Department of Justice announced this week.

Tara M. Brunst, 47, from Olmsted Falls, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud. She was a licensed investment advisor for her co-defendant, Raymond Erker, from Westlake.

Between January 2013 and January 2018, court documents said, Brunst and her co-conspirators devised a scheme to steal $9.3 million from investors.

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According to court documents, Brunst misrepresented investments to clients, suggesting they could receive a guaranteed rate of return with no risk of loss. Then, without the consent of their investors, court documents said, funds would be diverted to personal bank accounts and other entities.

To continue expanding the scheme, court records said Brunst would claim that payments from new investors were actually rates of return and interest for previous investors. The Department of Justice called this the classic sign of a “Ponzi scheme.”

Find out what’s happening in Westlake with free, real-time updates from Patch.

To avoid being caught, Brunst and her co-conspirators set up fronts in Delaware and Nevada, contracted with call centers and created false websites and account statements that purportedly showed investor account balances, court documents…

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