An Anne Arundel County investment adviser was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Baltimore to four years and three months in prison for bilking clients out of $2.3 million during a 12-year period.
The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis on Charles J. Kristie of the 600 block of Andrew Hill Road in Arnold was the maximum allowed under federal sentencing guidelines -- and 10 months longer than prosecutors had asked for under a plea agreement in which Kristie pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Rejecting the argument of Kristie's lawyer, Francis R. Laws, that the less time Kristie spent in court the more time he would have to earn money to repay his victims, Davis said, "The interest in this case in retribution is paramount."
In a separate action last month, Davis ordered Kristie to pay $2.6 million in civil claims brought against him by seven investors from Virginia and California.
Kevin Arthur, an attorney who represents one of the investors, said his client, a small-business owner in her late 50s, lost more than $1 million by investing with Kristie.
"She expected she would be able to retire at 60. Now, she's not able to do that," said Arthur.
Arthur said he and other attorneys had identified about $300,000 of Kristie's assets to be divided among the defrauded investors, but it was unclear how much each would receive.
"I think my client would say that justice was done by giving [Kristie] the maximum sentence that the court was able to give," Arthur said.
According to court papers, Kristie and his company, Balanced Capital Planning Inc. of Annapolis, falsely told investors that he could obtain a high rate of interest for their investments through a "Business First Money Market" bank account. But he used their money for personal and business expenses.
Kristie sent bogus financial statements to investors to cover up his scheme, court papers said.
When investors asked for some of their money, Kristie would pay them from a pooled fund that included money from all investors in what amounted to a mini-Ponzi scheme.
"What I did was not only reprehensible but something I can never truly right," Kristie, 51, told the court. "I enjoyed the trust of many people. I destroyed that trust."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen O. Gavin said the victims lost more than money.
"They are lacking now in their faith in other people," she said.