Michael Oppenheim, a former JPMorgan Chase & Co. broker who claims to have thieved millions of dollars from clients because his brain was “hijacked” by an addiction to gambling on sports, was sentenced to five years in prison.
At his peak, Oppenheim had nearly 500 clients and managed just shy of $90 million at JPMorgan. However, he fell into so much debt that even his bookie felt bad for him, according to Oppenheim’s attorney.
The former JPMorgan broker also got the sympathy of U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres, who stated that Oppenheim’s addiction and his care for his disabled daughter were why she gave him fewer than the ten years the prosecution wanted. She further noted that Oppenheim’s addiction grew substantially mere months after the birth of his daughter.
“I am cognizant that gambling is a mental disorder which is aggravated during periods of stress and depression,” said Torres, who extolled Oppenheim for showing remorse for his actions.
Oppenheim bet weekly on NFL games beginning in 1993 and later started betting online. After losing hundreds of thousands of dollars while at JPMorgan, Oppenheim started taking from his customers to try to recoup his losses. At some point he started selling options trading in technology stocks like Apple Inc., losing up to $2.7 million in a single day to try to get the money back.
Oppenheim pleaded guilty in November to stealing over $20 million, having concentrated on his ten richest customers. He hid the theft by providing clients with false account statements in what the prosecution called a game of “hide and seek” with their money.
According to the government, the former JPMorgan broker got his customers to take out hundred of thousands or even millions of dollars from their accounts by promising that he would invest the money in low-risk municipal bonds to be held at the bank. Instead, according to the government, he spent the money on cashier’s checks and deposited them in his own accounts outside the bank. The fraud spanned over seven years and concentrated on customers he knew would fail to closely examine their accounts.
If you or someone you know has lost money as a result of a broker’s wrongdoing, please contact Richard Frankowski at 888-741-7503 to discuss your potential legal remedies or complete the contact form.