ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Richard Kessler, 50, of Albuquerque, pleaded guilty on April 18 in federal court to one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud and four counts of failure to file tax returns.
Kessler was a financial advisor and investment broker who did business as Guardian Group Investments, LLC. According to the plea agreement and other court records, Kessler used his position to induce several individuals to entrust their retirement savings to him. During the period from February to August 2016, Kessler fraudulently convinced four victims to entrust him with a total of $121,267. Although Kessler had represented that he would place that money in retirement accounts for the benefit of those individuals, Kessler instead deposited their funds in his business bank account, which is specifically prohibited by New Mexico securities regulations. Kessler subsequently converted the victims’ retirement funds to his own purposes. Kessler used the fraudulently obtained money to pay for his personal expenditures and to make payments to earlier victims of his scheme. In his plea agreement, Kessler admitted that he devised and executed this scheme with the intent to defraud the investors.
Kessler failed to file federal income tax returns for tax years 2014 through 2017. Kessler’s failure to file tax returns and pay federal income taxes resulted in an aggregate tax liability of $82,627 for those four years, not including any penalties or interest.
Kessler faces up to 44 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
IRS Criminal Investigation investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy S. Vasquez is prosecuting the case.
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