Former Morgan Stanley Smith Barney financial advisor Victor Manuel Rivera Jr. pled guilty in a New Jersey federal court to stealing more than $90,000 from the accounts of his clients.

Rivera Jr., 47, of Clifton, N.J., worked in Morgan Stanley’s Paramus, N.J., office for two years, from October 2008 to October 2010. He admitted that during that time he forged wire transfer requests under his clients’ names and submitted them to his supervisors. The funds were then transferred to an account Rivera Jr. had created in someone else’s name.

Rivera Jr. also has admitted to stealing more than $90,000 from at least two of his customer accounts, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. Rivera used the stolen funds for his personal expenses, including his mortgage.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman noted in a statement that Morgan Stanley’s legal and compliance department worked closely with federal investigators throughout the case.

A Morgan Stanley spokesperson said the firm “promptly terminated Mr. Rivera after discovering his misconduct. In addition, Morgan Stanley cooperated fully with law enforcement investigating Mr. Rivera [Jr.] and with [his] two victims to compensate them for their losses."

The charges against Rivera Jr. could result in up to 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross amount Rivera gained or his clients lost. The court set June 27th for sentencing.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority permanently barred Rivera Jr. from associating with any of its members last June. FINRA concluded that because Rivera Jr. forged the signatures of his customers to transfer $94,000 in funds, he did not adhere to “high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.”

Rivera Jr. was registered with Morgan Stanley from August 2007, according to FINRA records, and worked at Wachovia Securities in Summit, N.J., for seven years before that.

Lorie Konish writes for On Wall Street.




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