A former Merrill Lynch investment adviser in Chicago has been sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison for swindling clients out of $3 million, including compensation a man had received from a wrongful conviction settlement with the state of Illinois.
Boggs was arrested on Aug. 22, 2019, at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago before boarding an international flight.
Marcus Boggs, 51, was accused of taking money from clients to pay his own mortgage, credit-card bills for lavish international vacations and fancy dinners, and the rent on numerous apartments he maintained in Chicago, federal prosecutors said. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud earlier this year.
The most damning charge against Boggs was that he took over $800,000 from Shainne Sharp, one of a group of men known as the Dixmoor 5 who each spent decades behind bars for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl they didn’t commit. They were exonerated in 2011 and reached a $40 million settlement with Illinois in 2014.
‘I really don’t trust a lot of people, Marcus knew that. He made it seem like he really cared.’
— Shainne Sharp, one of a group of men known as the Dixmoor 5 who each spent decades behind bars for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl they didn’t commit
According to prosecutors, Boggs convinced Sharp to let him manage his $5 million share in the settlement. Instead, prosecutors said Boggs used a substantial chunk of the money to pay off his American Express credit-card bills.
Sharp testified at Boggs’ sentencing hearing that he really didn’t understand investing and that Boggs had preyed on that, becoming close to him and his family socially.
“I really don’t trust a lot of people, Marcus knew that. He made it seem like he really cared,” Sharp said in court, according to the Chicago Tribune. “All the time he was taking advantage of me because I didn’t know the system like he did.”
Prosecutors said Sharp had to sell his house in order to cover shortfalls created by Boggs’ malfeasance.
Bank of America began running a new kind of check for suspicious transactions within its accounts, and spotted that Boggs appeared to be paying his own credit-card bills out of client accounts.
“[Boggs] had a personal relationship with his clients and knew what they hoped to achieve with their life savings and retirement,” assistant U.S. Attorney John D. Mitchell wrote in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “But that didn’t stop him from stealing their hard-earned money.”
At his sentencing, Boggs said: “I’ve dishonored myself and my reputation” and “what I did was wrong, there is no excuse.”
“Words can’t express how immensely sorry, remorseful and overcome with shame I am,” Boggs said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Prosecutors said Boggs had been pilfering from his client’s accounts for nine years before being caught in 2018. Court filings showed that Boggs’ scam was eventually uncovered when Merrill Lynch and its parent, Bank of America
began running a new kind of check for suspicious transactions within its accounts and spotted that Boggs appeared to be paying his own credit-card bills out of client accounts.
Merrill Lynch has said that it fired Boggs in December 2018 after he refused to explain himself, and that they contacted the authorities. The investment firm says it has reimbursed the clients who were affected by Boggs’ scam.
Prosecutors say Boggs has also agreed to pay back the $3 million in restitution which will be given to the bank.