Providence fund manager, firm accused of operating Ponzi-like scheme that cost investors $11M

Markets Associated Press

A fund manager and his firm have been accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of running a Ponzi-like scheme that cost investors more than $11 million.

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The SEC filed a complaint Thursday accusing Patrick Churchville and his Providence firm, ClearPath Wealth Management, of misappropriating client money over a period of years. It says Churchville and ClearPath stole money and covered up their actions by lying to investors and by employing various shadow accounts and accounting tricks.

It also says that Churchville used some of the money for himself, including $2.5 million to buy a home overlooking Narragansett Bay in Barrington.

Churchville did not return a call seeking comment at his firm on Monday. His lawyer, Michael Lepizzera, said he is still going through the complaint and they will respond accordingly at the appropriate time.

"This case is going to turn out to be a lot more complicated than what's painted in the SEC complaint," Lepizzera said.

He said Churchville's company made legitimate investments, many of which are pending and could become profitable.

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"Personally, think that it's much too early in the process to determine that there are going to be actually losses sustained by the investors," he said.

The SEC is seeking to bar Churchville from selling securities and for Churchville and his firm to turn over money they made. It also seeks a civil penalty of an unspecified amount of money.