Financial Advisor Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for Stealing From Clients’ Accounts

PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced 36-year-old Steven Watson of Gilbert, Arizona was sentenced to six years in the Arizona Department of Corrections for stealing money from victims’ dormant bank accounts. He will also serve seven years of probation upon his release.

In 2014, Watson was an associate financial advisor at a local bank and developed a plan to steal money from customer accounts that were dormant due to inactivity.

The bank launched an investigation when one of the victim’s beneficiaries, the Salvation Army, requested disbursement of the money that was to be distributed to the organization upon the death of the account owner. Special Agents with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Phoenix Division of the FBI, along with an FBI Forensic Accountant, found that Watson represented to the bank tellers that he had the authority to request cashier's checks from the account. Watson received approximately $169,528.23 in stolen proceeds from three accounts between October 21, 2014, and November 14, 2014. The cashier's checks were issued to another individual or in the name of a fictitious business Watson created. By the end of January 2015, Watson spent all of the stolen money on vehicles, vacations, adult entertainment, and child support. The investigation revealed the proceeds from the accounts should have gone to family members of the deceased, the Salvation Army, and/or the Red Cross.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Joseph Waters and Adam J. Schwartz.