EAST ST. LOUIS — A 47-year-old Salem man pleaded guilty today in federal court to defrauding a senior citizen out of tens-of-thousands of dollars.
Paul P. Gierten was charged March 31, 2015, of defrauding an octogenarian out of $39,000. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, Gierten formerly worked as an investment adviser in Centralia and the octogenarian victim was one of Gierten’s clients.
In August of 2009, Gierten falsely told the victim that he had an investment opportunity with a business that assisted military veteran.
Because he is a military veteran himself, the victim agreed to invest with the business, and from August 2009, through March 2011, the victim provided a total of $39,000 to Gierten for investment in this company.
Gierten did not invest the victim’s funds as promised, and instead used the victim’s funds for his own personal expenses and to pay operating expenses of his own business.
The specific crime with which Gierten was charged is Interstate Transportation of Money or Securities Obtained by Fraud.
At today’s hearing, Gierten admitted that in March of 2011, he used $5,000 from the victim’s last investment to purchase a Travel Money Card. Gierten then used the Travel Money Card to pay for his expenses during a trip to Colorado.
In commenting on today’s conviction, Wigginton said Gierten took advantage of one of our most vulnerable citizens, commenting that his office will always aggressively prosecute those who prey upon and defraud elderly residents of Southern Illinois.
Gierten’s sentencing hearing has been scheduled for July 31, 2015, at 11:00 a.m., at the Federal Courthouse in East St. Louis. He faces up to 10 years in prison, and/or a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release.
Gierten’s actual sentence will be determined by the court and will be guided by the advisory federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The investigation is being conducted by the Securities Department of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Verseman.