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Investment adviser admits $1.4 million fraud from clients – Buffalo News

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Michael Giokas’ three decades as a trusted investment adviser ended Monday with an admission that he cheated clients out of $1.4 million.

It was money, prosectors said, that he used to pay for personal expenses.

The former owner of Giokas Wealth Advisors in Williamsville also admitted using a fake company, Trinity Council LLC, as part of a scheme to solicit investments he knew were fraudulent.

“Trinity Council was a shell company that engaged in no investments or business activity,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Bonanno said Monday.

Giokas pleaded guilty to wire fraud and will face a recommended sentence of up to five years and three months months in prison when he is sentenced July 30 by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

He also was ordered to pay $916,000 in restitution to more than 20 victims.

Born in Greece, Giokas said he came here with his parents in 1969, became a U.S. citizen and spent all of his adult life as a financial adviser.

In that role, he engaged in two schemes to cheat his clients. The first involved the shell company and a false promise of guaranteed returns with no loss on his clients’ principal.

The second scheme centered around Giokas’ demand for fees he didn’t earn from his clients.

All told, he admitted stealing $1.4 million, but the FBI seized more than $500,000 at the time of his arrest and some of that money has been returned to the victims.

Giokas said very little during his court appearance, but at one point, talked about his charity work, including raising money for disabled children in Greece.

Defense lawyer John E. Rogowski declined to comment Monday but said his client will talk more about the good he has done during his sentencing.