BOSTON (WWLP) – A Worcester investment adviser was sentenced in connection with a long-running scheme that involved stealing more than $2.8 million from six different clients.

James Kenneth Couture, 42, from Sutton, was sentenced to 100 months in prison and three years of supervised release after stealing $2,874,585, according to the Department of Justice. Back in September of 2022, Couture pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud, as well as four counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of investment adviser fraud, and one count of witness tampering. 

Couture used to be a registered investment adviser in a Worcester office. He invested his clients’ funds in different securities and insurance products, including annuities, and set up clients with profit-sharing plans and retirement products. From 2009 to 2020, Couture misappropriated around $2.8 million from clients by transferring funds out of his clients’ accounts, investing it in fake mutual funds, and then selling other clients’ holdings to pay for investment returns.

In June of 2016, Couture liquidated one of his client’s variable annuities to fund some withdrawals by another client. Then in December of 2019 and January of 2020, Couture paid a client that he had previously defrauded by selling other clients’ mutual funds. Couture then either forged his clients’ signatures on documents or he caused clients to sign the documents by falsely representing that the proceeds of the transactions would be used for the client’s benefit. Couture also stole from his clients using their own profit-sharing plans and by doing transactions in their names to disguise his fake transactions.

Couture was first charged in connection with this scheme in June 2021, and then after those initial charges were filed, Couture engaged in witness tampering by creating more fake documents that he claimed to be for his client’s accounts and providing false information to at least one victim in the case for around six months. Couture was then charged with witness tampering in connection to deceiving this victim on Jan. 14, 2022.