Ex M&T, Suntrust Broker Indicted
We hate these stories. Financial professionals that steal from the vulnerable and the elderly.
Earlier this month a federal grand jury charged former stockbroker Eddy Blizzard with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The charges don’t reflect the depravity of Blizzard’s alleged actions. Prosecutors say that he took an elderly man’s life savings, left him penniless, his home in foreclosure and with a huge tax bill to boot. Unfortunately, the victim died before he saw justice.
In announcing the charges, Maryland’s acting United States Attorney said,
“This defendant is charged with perpetrating a heartless scheme that preyed on a vulnerable elderly victim, allegedly stealing more than a million dollars. As a result of the fraud the victim’s house went into foreclosure and he owed the IRS at least $63,000. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who perpetrate these despicable schemes targeting elderly victims.”
The victim was 75.
The victim – we will call him “Robert” – went to work for an air conditioning company in 1963. After 40 years of service he retired in 2003.
Not knowing where to turn for financial advice, Robert went to M&T Bank where he had been banking for years. There he was introduced to Eddy Blizzard who became his financial adviser.
According to our investigation, Blizzard has been licensed as a stockbroker since 2001. When he first met Robert he was at M&T Securities, an affiliate of M&T Bank. In June 2014 he went to work for Suntrust.
Prosecutors say that in 2010,
“at Blizzard’s request, [Robert] gave Blizzard 15-20 signed blank checks, which Blizzard used… During the years of investment with Blizzard, [Robert] stated that he believed his retirement funds were protected, meaning they would not lose value – a fact that was allegedly told to [Robert] numerous times by Blizzard and Blizzard’s wife. [Robert] also believed that his mortgage was being paid by Blizzard.”
Robert had no idea what was really happening.
In August 2019, Robert tried to cash a check to take his family on vacation. The check didn’t clear. Puzzled, Robert called Blizzard. When he got no answer he went to Blizzard’s home and began banging on the door.
Robert told investigators that Blizzard later called him and admitted his life savings had been drained. Blizzard also claimed he was in the hospital after an unsuccessful suicide attempt
Federal agents don’t believe the suicide attempt was real.
Blizzard then allegedly emailed Robert son’s and blamed the loss of funds on bad investments.
The feds believe that Blizzard made over one hundred unauthorized withdrawals from Robert’s accounts. About $1 million dollars was transferred into Blizzard’s own bank account.
Where did the money go? Prosecutors say the money was used for payments on Blizzard’s new home, a boat and his personal taxes. Blizzard paid his own taxes with Robert’s money while those transactions caused Robert to owe taxes to the IRS on money he never got to enjoy.
Why did Robert never realize what was happening? Robert has limited ability to read. His reading problems made it difficult for him to understand his statements. That disability made it possible for Blizzard to embezzle money for almost a decade.
Only after his account was drained did Robert discover he was the victim of a crime. About the same time he learned that he also owed the IRS $63,000 (the IRS was taxing the withdrawals from his retirement accounts) and that his home mortgage had not been paid and was in foreclosure.
Robert died a short time later.
If Blizzard is convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison for wire charge and a minimum of two years for the aggravated identity theft charge.
What does Suntrust say? They say that Blizzard was terminated for violating firm policies. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has suspended Blizzard’s securities licenses.
Who Is Responsible for Customer Losses When a Broker Steals?
Eddy Blizzard is facing a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. Although innocent until proven guilty, we believe a jury will have no problem convicting him.
Trying to get money from a guy in prison is next to impossible. It’s tragically too late for Robert. He died in March 2020. His estate, however, still has a claim.
When a stockbroker steals or embezzles money from a client, the brokerage firm that employed the bad broker can be held liable for any losses suffered by the client. That rule applies even if the brokerage firm had no clue their broker was stealing.
Under U.S. law and FINRA rules, brokerage firms have a duty to properly supervise their employees and agents. While liability isn’t automatic, a good stockbroker fraud lawyer can usually show that the firm should have known about the improprieties of their agent. When that happens, the firm becomes liable.
When brokers steal, it is often the FBI or local law enforcement who prosecute the theft. That doesn’t make victims whole, however. If you lost money because of a dishonest stockbroker or investment advisor, you need the services of an experienced fraud recovery lawyer. We can help you hold the firm where the dishonest broker worked responsible.
Claims against brokerage firms are typically handled by arbitration. These arbitrations take place before a FINRA panel of between 1 and 3 arbitrators. Unlike traditional lawsuits, arbitrations are typically handled in about one year and there are no appeals.
To learn more, visit our stockbroker fraud page. Ready to see if you have a claim? Contact us online, by email or by phone 202.800.9791. We handle cases on a contingent or success fee basis meaning you owe us nothing unless we recover money on your behalf. Cases handled nationwide. Minimum loss amount $100,000.
*An indictment is not a finding of guilt. Blizzard is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty by a judge or jury.