BATON ROUGE, La. — A Louisiana-based investment adviser has been charged with defrauding clients by using their money for personal expenses, to pay off other investors and to invest in a risky real estate venture.
Ralph Willard Savoie, a resident of Baton Rouge and Mandeville, was charged last Friday with one count of wire fraud, said acting U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson.
Savoie obtained more than $150,000 from the investors and used some of the money on jewelry, hotels, restaurants, credit card bills, a car note and rent, according to a court filing, which also said Savoie falsely told clients he would invest their money in securities and insurance and to develop industrial cooling towers. Instead, the filing says, he used their money to write checks to himself and his family and to pay off others who had previously invested money with him.
When one investor confronted Savoie in March 2016, Savoie promised to return the man’s money “as long as (the client) did not report the matter to law enforcement authorities,” the filing says. It says Savoie had an office in Baton Rouge and was “associated with” a Fairfield, Iowa-based brokerage firm, Cambridge Investment Research Inc., from roughly July 2013 until August 2015. Savoie was soliciting and obtaining money from defrauded investors from approximately January 2013 to March 2016, according to the filing.
Savoie is charged in a bill of information, which typically signals a plea deal with prosecutors has been reached.
Savoie’s attorney, Vincent Wynne Jr., didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday.
Cindy Schaus, a spokeswoman for Cambridge Investment Research Inc., said Savoie was an independent contractor, not an employee of the company.
“We are not in a position to comment on allegations related to Mr. Savoie,” Schaus said in an email Tuesday.
This story has been corrected to reflect that Savoie is charged only with one count of wire fraud.