TOMS RIVER – The Toms River man convicted for using his securities trading company to steal more than $400,000 from investors back in May has been sentenced to 10 years in state prison, according to Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
Jeffrey D. Griffin, Jr., 43, of Toms River, N.J., was sentenced to 10 years by Superior Court Judge Joseph Portelli in Passaic County on June 7. Griffin has also been ordered to pay full restitution.
Griffin was convicted on five counts, charging him with theft by deception, misapplication of entrusted property, two counts of violation of New Jersey’s Uniform Securities Act, and money laundering, all in the second degree, on May 8.
“Our strong message to dishonest agents in the investment industry is that if you break the law and cheat New Jersey investors out of their hard-earned savings, we will prosecute you and make you pay,” said Attorney General Grewal. “This defendant betrayed his clients to serve his own greed, but now he will serve time in prison, thanks to our trial team and all of the investigators in the Division of Criminal Justice and Bureau of Securities whose outstanding collaboration secured this verdict.”
Griffin was previously found guilty of stealing funds from investors by depositing them into his securities trading company and then using the money for personal expenses.
“Griffin’s clients trusted him to invest in legitimate investment vehicles for their benefit, but he repaid their trust by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of their money,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will aggressively investigate these egregious and criminal violations of trust and prosecute those responsible to the full extent of the law.”
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, from August 2010 through July 2011, Griffin stole $408,000 from four investors – three men and one woman. The funds were deposited by Griffin into his newly formed company, Tricep Trading LLC.
Griffin had worked as a stockbroker for another investment firm, but he left that firm to form Tricep in August 2010.
The three men had been clients of Griffin at the prior firm, and Griffin led two of them to believe that their funds were still being invested through that firm or through a new division of the firm that Griffin was heading.
One had $100,000 of his funds deposited into the Tricep business account without his knowledge. He received checks totaling $39,000 from Griffin before Tricep ran out of funds, for a net loss of $61,000.
Griffin told the other three victims that he would be investing on their behalf through hedge fund-type investments or day trading. The other two men each invested $25,000 and received no returns. The woman invested $324,000 and received $27,000 in checks from Griffin, for a net loss of $297,000.
Griffin transferred funds from the Tricep business account into his personal account and used the Tricep account to make numerous ATM withdrawals and retail purchases.
He transferred $25,000 from Tricep to a firm that engaged in real estate flipping, but did not record that as an investment for Tricep.
He used another $120,000 – which he first transferred to his personal account – to open an account with a day trading firm that prohibits members from trading other investors’ money.
By May 2011, Tricep was out of funds.
Griffin’s registration as an agent of a broker-dealer was revoked in 2013 by the Bureau of Securities and he was also permanently barred him from associating with any broker-dealer or investment adviser conducting business in New Jersey. It also assessed a $125,000 civil penalty against Griffin and Tricep.
Investors who believe they have been defrauded are urged to contact the Division of Criminal Justice toll free at 866-TIPS-4CJ (866-847-7425) or the Bureau of Securities toll free at 866-I-INVEST (866-446-8378).
Griffin represented himself at trial.