Vernon Hills financial planner who defrauded clients sent to prison

Associated Press

A financial planner from Vernon Hills who stole money set aside by clients for their retirement years has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Victim Lovadore Bode on Tuesday told a federal judge in Chicago that she believed her finances were in good hands with Richard K. Booy, founder of Principal Financial Strategies LLC and Safe Financial Strategies Inc., managing her money. Instead, the 92-year-old Bode said, Booy "took just about everything I had." The wheelchair-bound woman, who is partially deaf and blind, said she doesn't have money to hire people to help her.

Prosecutors say Booy stole more than $250,000 from Bode's savings.

Although Booy claimed to be affiliated with the more widely known investment firm Principal Financial Group, he had no actual relationship with the firm and was not authorized to invest client funds with it, authorities said in a news release. He continued his scheme even after Principal Financial Group obtained a temporary restraining order against him that led to a court-authorized seizure of his computer and other evidence, the news release said.

Other victims of Booy addressed the court before Judge Gary Feinerman sentenced him.

The 50-year-old Booy pleaded guilty last year to mail fraud, admitting to bilking two dozen victims, most of them elderly, out of more than $2.3 million from 2012 to 2016. He used stolen money cover personal expenses, including health insurance, fitness club membership, purchases at Best Buy and DirecTV, and to make Ponzi-type payments to earlier investors, authorities said in a news release.

Booy "committed much of this egregious conduct while sitting in his victims' homes and in their places of worship," Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew S. Ebert argued in the government's sentencing memorandum. "While face to face repeatedly with his victims, Booy brazenly made his pitch knowing that his actual purpose was to obtain and then devour his victims' savings, pensions, and income."

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