A veteran Franklin Park investment broker was arraigned today on charges that she fleeced two long-time clients out of about $135,000 in retirement savings and spent the money on a cruise, a trip to Las Vegas and other expenses.
Loriann Artzberger, 49, of Little Sewickley Creek Road, was charged with theft by deception, a felony, and misapplication of entrusted property of government or financial institutions.
Ms. Artzberger was most recently employed by Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Sewickley, according to her online profile with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, an independent nonprofit that writes and enforces rules for more than 600,000 brokers. She has been a registered broker for about 30 years with several firms in the Pittsburgh area.
Her attorney, Justin Ketchel, said his client had no criminal record. He said he had not seen any documentation supporting the charges.
"She's a family woman," Mr. Ketchel said, "and hopefully we can amicably get this situation resolved."
Starting in 2010 Ms. Artzberger had two of her clients write cashier's checks from their retirement accounts and give them to her, ostensibly for deposit in new accounts as a way to diversify their investments, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
No new accounts were opened, however, the affidavit said. Instead, clients Sue Woloshun and Kathleen Laird, were notified by the IRS in October 2012 that they owed penalties and interest for early withdrawals from their retirement accounts.
The two visited an IRS office in Monroeville and learned that their money had not been reinvested in their names.
When the two confronted Ms. Artzberger, the affidavit said, she responded, "You guys are going to shoot me. Let's get this over with...I really screwed up," the affidavit said.
Some of the cashier's checks were deposited into a "holding account" owned by Ms. Artzberger's employer; the rest went into an investment account she owned, according to the affidavit.
In addition to the cruise and Vegas trip, the funds paid for about $86,000 in checks made payable to Ms. Artzberger, the affidavit said.
On Friday, detectives met with Ms. Artzberger at an Eat'n Park, where she confessed to using the money for her own benefit and said: "I made a mistake. I used the money. I regret it."
Mr. Ketchel confirmed the meeting but said, "the scope of that meeting, at which I was not present, is still being fully investigated."
Asked about the possibility of restitution, Mr. Ketchel said, "If the court deems that she owes restitution, she will happily pay back whatever the court deems is appropriate."
As to whether Ms. Artzberger has the resources to make the alleged victims whole, Mr. Ketchel said he is still exploring his client's financial situation.
Ms. Artzberger was arraigned today before District Judge Jeffrey L. Herbst in Monroeville.
She was released on her own recognizance.
Ms. Artzberger worked 20 years for Pittsburgh Brokerage Services Inc. until March 2011. She moved from there to work as an independent contractor for Space Financial Services Inc. in Oakmont, handling life insurance but not securities, owner Rich Space said.
Ms. Artzberger stopped working for Space last March and joined Janney Montgomery Scott, which suspended her today based on the criminal charges, said Karen Shakoske, a spokeswoman for the Philadephia-based group.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 4 at 1:30 p.m.
First Published February 27, 2014 4:01 PM