Former Altoona financial adviser detained ahead of trial for probation violation
MADISON, Wis. (WEAU) — A former Altoona financial adviser is being held pending trial later this year for violating the terms of his probation.
Michael Shillin has been ordered to be detained ahead of his upcoming hearings and trial in federal court after U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested him at Cyril E. King International Airport in St. Thomas des U.S. Virgin Islands on April 9, according to court documents. filed Thursday.
The terms of Shillin’s probation with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin included a condition that he could not travel outside the jurisdiction of the federal court except for day trips to visit parents and attorneys throughout the state of Wisconsin. Any other travel would require prior approval from Pre-Trial Services.
On March 29, Shillin said he had been invited by his employer to give a talk in Antigua and was under pressure from his employer to become one of the top performers in the company. in 2021. A US Pretrial and Probation Services officer told Shillin that traveling abroad was not something his office could approve of and that Shillin would need to sign off in court. The next day, Shillin’s attorney asked both the probation officer and the assistant U.S. attorney if either would approve Shillin’s request and both said they would deny it. On April 1, Shillin told his lawyer and the probation officer that his employer had agreed to let his girlfriend make the trip instead to attend events and asked if there would be a problem with her using their joint checking account while traveling abroad.
Shillin told the probation officer that he received $2,000 in airfare credit and a $1,800 bonus from his employer which was deposited into his bank account, which was given to him instead. to attend the conference in Antigua. He said he used the funds to pay for his trip to St. Thomas, where he spent five nights at a resort with his girlfriend, but the probation officer did not verify the claim, according to court documents filed with the summons on Monday. .
Due to the violation of the probation condition, Shillin was detained ahead of his next court appearance on June 16, a pre-trial motion hearing. Shillin also has a July 18 deadline for his final pretrial submissions and a final pretrial conference scheduled for July 21. Shillin will then appear in court for his final hearing on August 8 before jury selection and trial begin on August 15.
Shillin is charged with nine counts of fraud by wire, radio or television and one count of bank fraud. According to the federal indictment, Shillin’s company managed nearly 3,000 accounts and more than $135 million and engaged in a scheme to defraud customers, and investigators say he falsely said to clients that he had made them hundreds of thousands of dollars buying stock in companies, which the Securities and Exchange Commission said was a lie.
The charges were brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission on September 23, 2021, after former clients said Shillin defrauded them. In the filing, investigators say Shillin, while acting as a financial adviser, fabricated documents and lied to clients about the true value of their investments. In addition to allegations of defrauding clients by taking money to make non-existent investments, he also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions for the work he claimed to do on behalf of his clients. The SEC allegations accuse Shillin of defrauding at least 100 clients. The indictment also charges Shillin with defrauding a bank by taking out more than $450,000 in loans using a customer’s banking information.
Some of the results of Shillin’s failure as a financial analyst and insurance agent are described in the SEC complaint: “During the sale of a life insurance policy, told his [Shillin’s] client, it contained a long-term care benefit. The client, who now has stage IV cancer, only learned that there was no such policy or benefit after his diagnosis. For one of Shillin’s investment clients, the SEC says the reality of Shillin’s betrayal only came after he made the decision to retire early – after Shillin claimed that the man was “$450,000 richer.” Shillin had explained that the money was profits from Shillin’s purchase of shares of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or “SpaceX” for the customer. It wasn’t until later that the investor learned the truth: SpaceX stock and the resulting nest egg were the result of Shillin’s deception. »
The filing continues: “These are just two examples of Shillin’s myriad lies and the pain they have caused so many of his clients. Shillin went to great lengths to deceive his customers. He even set up an online portal for his clients to monitor their portfolio of stocks and earnings – much of which, as we now know, was fictitious.
Investigators say Shillin began cheating clients in 2014 when he worked for another financial consultancy. One of the deceptive actions took place in 2018 when Shillin was terminated from the company and according to the filing, “He falsely told clients that his departure was voluntary. Many clients would have fired him had they known the truth and would therefore have refused to continue paying him consulting fees.
If found guilty of the charges brought by the SEC, Shillin could be barred from certain securities positions; reimburse customers it is accused of defrauding and/or expose itself to civil penalties.
Shillin pleaded not guilty to all charges on November 4, 2021.
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