A U.S. money manager who ran a financial planning firm has been arrested on charges of defrauding clients of more than $6 million by stealing from their accounts, authorities said on Wednesday.
Matthew Weitzman, a founder and principal at AFW Wealth Advisors with offices in Purchase, New York, and Natick, Massachusetts, was charged with criminal securities fraud and wire fraud.
He was also sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a civil lawsuit. Both cases were brought in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Weitzman, 43, of Armonk, New York, is accused of fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars worth of AFW investor funds and using them for himself.
The SEC said he stole client funds from at least 2005 until this past March, when he is accused of making an unauthorized $35,000 transfer from a client's account. He is accused of using the money to help finance a lavish lifestyle.
A lawyer for Weitzman could not immediately be reached for comment.
An AFW representative was also not immediately available. The firm is a fee-only planning firm founded in 1993, according to its website. The SEC said that prior to April, it purportedly had more than 300 clients and managed about $200 million in assets.
In April, New York Times financial writer Ron Lieber wrote a column in the newspaper saying he had used Weitzman as his planner. He said AFW contacted him, saying it had found irregularities in a limited number of client accounts and that the firm had notified authorities.
Lieber wrote in his April column that the firm's email stated that Weitzman was on leave and would have no further contact with client accounts.
(Reporting by Martha Graybow; Editing by Dave Zimmerman and Brian Moss)