Litigation Release No. 23467 / February 16, 2016

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Wade James Lawrence, Civil Action No. 3:16-cv-426-B (N.D. Tex.) (February 16, 2016)

SEC Charges Investment Advisor with Unauthorized Trading and Fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Wade James Lawrence, a former investment adviser with two dually-registered securities firms, with executing unauthorized trades in his clients' investment accounts and defrauding other individuals who tried to invest their money with him.

The SEC's complaint, filed in federal court in Texas, alleges that:

  • Starting in 2010 while employed at the first firm, Lawrence executed unauthorized trades in speculative, high-risk securities in several of his clients' accounts.
  • After joining the other firm in August 2011, Lawrence continued to place unauthorized trades of risky securities in his clients' accounts.
  • Between 2010 and 2013, Lawrence's clients lost at least $2 million due to his improper and unauthorized trading.
  • Lawrence fraudulently obtained approximately $480,000 from at least five individuals by claiming that he could trade securities for them at prices lower than those available to the general public and in securities that were not otherwise available to individual investors.
  • Immediately after receiving the investors' funds, Lawrence used most of the money for personal expenditures and to repay personal debts, while returning a portion of the funds disguised as investment profits.

In a related action, on August 25, 2015, Lawrence pleaded guilty to fraud charges and, on January 20, 2015 was sentenced to 36 months imprisonment, ordered to pay $1,454,384.48 in restitution, and ordered to forfeit $126,074.10 as a result of his conduct.

Lawrence has agreed to settle the SEC's action by consenting to a court order that enjoins him from violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940; orders him to disgorge $458,700 plus prejudgment interest of $32,101.13, but deems payment of these amounts satisfied by the entry of the criminal restitution and forfeiture orders; and does not order the payment of a civil penalty based in consideration of his criminal conviction and 36-month sentence. The settlement is subject to court approval.

The SEC's investigation was conducted by Robert Hannan, Chris Reynolds, and Melvin Warren and supervised by Eric Werner in the Fort Worth Regional Office.

SEC Complaint