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Stockbroker pleads guilty to mail fraud

September 22, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

A former Hagerstown stockbroker pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling almost $800,000 from three clients, including his father and stepmother, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.

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William S. Hatcher Sr., 40, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to one count of mail fraud, U.S. Attorney Lynne A. Battaglia said.

Conviction on the charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine plus restitution, he said. Chief Judge J. Frederick Motz, who accepted Hatcher's plea, scheduled sentencing for Nov. 19.

Hatcher, who was not taken into custody, could not be reached for comment because his phone number is unlisted.

Hatcher, who worked for Ferris, Baker, Watts, Inc., in Hagerstown for 15 years, resigned in December 1998. The company assisted in the investigation, which was conducted by the Maryland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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In a statement of facts presented to the court, Hatcher admitted that he misappropriated funds of three of his clients - his father, his stepmother and another person - by liquidating some of their securities and converting the proceeds to his own use from January 1991 through April 1998.

The government alleged that Hatcher used the $789,919 he misappropriated to "increase his standard of living, including paying the mortgage and improvements on a new home, vacations and the purchase of jewelry," Battaglia said in a written release.

Around December 1998 Hatcher told his stepmother what he had done, and later admitted his conduct to the other client, Battaglia said.

Hatcher had his stepmother's financial statements sent to a post office box he used so she would not know something was awry, Battaglia said.

Hatcher also used his own money to send his stepmother what she thought were dividend payments, he said, he said.

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