By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — Following a years-long investigation, felony forgery and misrepresentation charges have been filed against an unregistered Wausau financial planner who now stands accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a client.
Michael Peter Sirianni, 63, faces four counts of forgery and four counts of using unfair marketing practices filed Feb. 14 in Marathon County Circuit Court. A date for an initial appearance has not yet been set.
According to the criminal complaint:
Police first met in June 2013 with a Wausau man who told investigators he suspected Sirianni had been stealing money from the man’s accounts. The man, whose name Wausau Pilot and Review will not release because he is the alleged victim of a crime, said he chose and stayed with Sirianni as a financial planner for about 10 years because the two were once high school classmates.
The alleged victim first became concerned when he was contacted by an insurance company representative to ask about a $17,000 withdrawal on his account. Paperwork sent to the victim by the insurance company included a voided check made out to the victim with instructions for the money to be sent to Sirianni’s address. The file from the insurance company included handwritten notes indicating that the funds were needed urgently “to close on (a) home purchase,” according to court documents. The man was able to cancel that check before it was cashed, and told police he had not planned any real estate purchases.
Further investigation of the alleged victim’s accounts showed several irregularities, including a withdrawal of $25,000; that money was later reinvested, according to the complaint. Other withdrawals were not reinvested, and in some cases cost the victim thousands in surrender fees and IRS penalties, police said.
According to the State Department of Financial Institutions,Sirianni has had previous legal entanglements tracing back to 2003, when he was a registered representative of Winebrenner Capital Partners, LLC. In August 2005, the New York Stock Exchange issued charges against Sirianni for violating NYSE rules, including “failing to use due diligence, recommending unsuitable products for his customers and misstating facts to his employer and to the NYSE, according to the DFI order. Winebrenner terminated Sirianni’s employment shortly afterward.
By August 2005, Sirianni no longer was registered with any governmental authority to transact securities business “in any capacity whatsoever,” including as an investment advisor, DFI documents show. The NYSE Hearing Board then censured Sirianni in June 2008, ordering a five-year ban, a decision that was upheld in February 2009.
But investigators learned that Sirianni made stock and option trades for an investor between January 2006 until June 2012, sometimes misrepresenting himself as the investor in phone calls with Fidelity, court records show. As a result, the state permanently prohibited Sirianni from registering with the Wisconsin Division of Securities as an investment advisor or broker dealer.
State officials in 2015 issued a cease and desist order to Sirianni for violating that order.
The alleged victim in the current case told police that early in their financial relationship, Sirianni had worked in an office but used his car to transact business after the office closed. The two would meet regularly in parking lots to discuss the alleged victim’s finances.
If Sirianni is convicted on all counts, he faces up to 28 1/2 year in the Wisconsin Prison System.