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Retirement Planning > Social Security

Ex-Broker Charged With Murdering a Client in Texas

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A former Parkland Securities broker who was under investigation for a suspected Ponzi scheme has been charged with murdering a client, according to the police department in Carrollton, Texas.

Detectives charged 48-year-old Keith T. Ashley of Allen, Texas, with murder for the shooting death of 62-year-old James “Jim” Seegan, the Carrollton Police Department announced Wednesday.

Ashley was taken into federal custody near his home in Allen Nov. 13 on related wire fraud charges, police said.

On Feb. 19. 2020, Seegan’s wife “found her husband dead of a gunshot wound to the head when she returned” to their Carrollton home, Carrollton police said, adding: “Directly next to him was a typed note indicating it was a suicide.”

However, during a nine-month, “complex investigation, detectives found evidence that Ashley actually incapacitated, then murdered Seegan in an attempt to gain control of his finances,” Carrolton Police claimed.

In addition to serving as Seegan’s financial advisor, Ashley was a friend who would periodically visit the Seegan home, Carrollton police said, adding: “During the course of the investigation, detectives also identified several other victims of a ‘Ponzi’-type scheme Ashley orchestrated.”

Parkland Securities and Dan Lamar Cogdell of Cogdell Law Firm in Houston, who is representing Ashley, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

The firm terminated Ashley Oct. 27, saying it had “reason to believe that the representative engaged in undisclosed outside business activities and also failed to provide the firm with prior notice of private securities transactions involving his privately held company,” according to a disclosure in his report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website.

Ashley is not currently registered as a broker, according to BrokerCheck. There is one criminal disclosure on his report: a 1991 case involving suspected felony forgery in his signing the back of a check. The case was dismissed, according to the report.

Anyone with information related to the crimes was asked to call the department’s tip line at (972) 466-9133 or email via [email protected].

The Carrollton Police Department partnered with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in the investigation, it said.

Ponzi Scheme

An indictment, filed Nov. 13 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Sherman, alleged that, from on or about Dec. 23, 2013, and continuing through on or about May 14, 2020, Ashley was running a fraud scheme.

Ashley “solicited money from individuals representing that he was investing funds” with Parkland Securities and SmartTrust in a unit investment trust, according to the the indictment. However, he instead “kept a significant portion of the money for his own personal use,” it was alleged.

Ashley received more than $1.3 million from investors to whom he had “made the materially false representations, pretenses, and promises related to investing funds” with SmartTrust or Parkland Securities in a UIT, according to the indictment.

He pocketed and spent more than $1.1 million of the investor funds and, although he returned approximately $81,325 to investors, he “used the remaining bulk of the funds for a variety of personal expenses and personal benefit, such as brewery expenses, spending at casinos, payments on personal credit cards, legal fees, cash withdrawals, mortgage payments, college tuition and student loan payments, and utilities,” according to the indictment.

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