More Restitution Will Mean Less Prison Time For Former Stockbroker

By: William C. Lhotka, of the Post-Dispatch
(reprinted from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 24, 2006)

The more that a former stockbroker repays of the $69,205 he stole from a retired brewery worker, the shorter his prison sentence will be.

The sliding-scale penalty for Charles P. Clark, 47, of St. Louis, was the result of a plea bargain between prosecutor Keith Larner and defense attorney Jenna Glass.

Clark pleaded guilty Monday in St. Louis County Circuit Court on 20 counts of felony theft. He admitted he stole the life savings of an Anheuser-Busch retiree from June 22, 2000, to May 16, 2002.

Clark repaid $10,000 Monday to the victim, 73, of Richmond Heights. And Larner told Judge David Lee Vincent III that, as of now, he was recommending a five-year prison sentence instead of six because of the repayment.

Vincent wanted to know what Larner’s recommendation would be if Clark comes up with the balance by the sentencing date of May 5. "I want to see the money and then I’ll do some talking," the prosecutor said.

Larner said the victim would systematically write checks to Clark for investments, but Clark would deposit the funds into his own personal account.

Larner told the Post-Dispatch that several employees of Anheuser-Busch lost substantial amounts of money investing with Clark, but Clark was not charged in other cases because the paper trail did not support prosecution.

Clark operated from the Clayton offices of First Union Securities. It has been purchased by Wachovia Securities, which has paid a penalty of $300,000 in a settlement stemming from another broker’s manipulation of clients’ accounts. The other broker was not charged but has sold his home and moved out of state.

Clayton lawyer Albert Watkins, who has settled cases involving more than 40 victims who lost millions, said there are more victims out there, and a statute of limitations to collect any restitution expires in April.

Watkins called Clark and the other broker "rogues who worked in an office with woefully deficient supervision."