A former financial planner at Carmel-based Valeo Financial Advisors has agreed to plead guilty to two criminal charges related to the misappropriation of $4.69 million in client funds.
Christopher Turean filed a petition Nov. 13 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and the tax-return charge carries a maximum sentence of up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Turean has also agreed to pay restitution of $4.69 million to his victim and $1.73 million to the Internal Revenue Service, the plea agreement says.
Turean has accepted responsibility for his actions, the plea agreement says, and the government has agreed to request a sentence on the low end of the sentencing guidelines.
Valeo is not named in the court filings and is identified only as “Company A, a financial-planning business in Carmel, Indiana” where Turean worked as a certified financial planner from September 2012 until February 2022.
But according to Turean’s public disclosure information on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he worked for Valeo from September 2012 until February 2022, when he was discharged from the firm over allegations of misappropriation of customer funds.
That SEC disclosure also says that the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service disclosed in February 2022 that they were investigating Turean regarding misappropriation of customer funds.
According to the plea agreement, an individual identified only as Victim 1 became a client of Turean’s in 2015. “Initially, the defendant invested Victim 1’s money prudently, frequently in real estate,” the agreement says.
Starting around July 2019, the plea agreement says, Turean began transferring money out of the victim’s investment account and into a separate bank account affiliated with an entity called SCNT LLC, an entity Turean had established. The victim approved the transfers because he believed Turean was investing the funds on his behalf.
But instead of investing that money, the plea agreement says, Turean spent it on gambling and paying down a home equity loan. “Throughout the entire scheme to defraud, the defendant did not invest any of the money in the SCNT account for Victim 1 on real estate or anything else despite Victim 1’s belief that the money would be invested by the defendant,” the plea agreement says.
Court filings indicate that Turean lived in Fishers during this time period, but the filings do not say if he still lives in that city.
Turean’s defense attorney, Eric Massey of Indianapolis firm Banks & Brower LLC, did not return phone calls and emails from Indianapolis Business Journal seeking comment on the case.
Turean concealed his actions from both his employer and the victim, telling both that he had invested the money in real estate, court documents said. Court documents do not reveal how the activities were discovered.
In an emailed statement, Valeo said, “In February 2022, our senior leadership learned a former employee was under federal investigation. Based on our review of the evidence provided, the employee was immediately terminated. We cooperated fully with the authorities in their investigation. According to the investigators, it was an isolated event involving a single client, a single advisor, and a single account. We appreciate the diligence of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in bringing closure to this matter.”
The second charge against Turean, for filing a false tax return, stems from his failure to report the embezzled money as income when he filed his tax returns. As a result, Turean underreported his income for the tax years 2019 through 2021 and failed to pay a combined $1.73 million in taxes on that income, the plea agreement says.
A sentencing date has not yet been set.