Pinnacle Owner Pleads Guilty in Investment Scam

The former owner of a Lawrence-based financial services company pleaded guilty today to charges that he defrauded investors, filed false tax returns on behalf of certain clients, and then filed his own false tax returns.

Robert Burton, 37, the former managing director of Pinnacle Financial Consulting LLC, Pinnacle Strategic Investments LLC, and the Pinnacle Asset and Capital Management Group LLC, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf to securities fraud and tax fraud.  Sentencing is scheduled for Nov.13,  3 p.m.

Burton acted as an investment advisor and promised to invest some clients’ money in various securities, including stocks, mutual funds, and in a debt portfolio allegedly managed by Pinnacle.  In some instances, he promised to return the principal invested within approximately 30 days, along with an interest payment equal to 100% of the amount invested.  Burton did not invest the money as promised, did not make the promised payments and, in some instances, provided investors with checks that ultimately bounced.

Through Pinnacle, Burton also provided tax preparation services and, in at least two instances, prepared and filed false tax returns on behalf of his clients.  Finally, although Burton derived substantial income through the operation of Pinnacle, he failed to identify that income on his own tax returns and admitted to filing false tax returns for the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 tax years.

If the plea agreement is accepted by the court, Burton will be sentenced to no more than two years in prison and not less than 12 months confinement, three years of supervised release, and restitution to the victims.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today.  The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, which has a civil case pending against Burton, cooperated with the investigation.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. Walters of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit