Court Sentences Pinnacle’s Burton to Four Years in Jail

The former owner of a Lawrence-based financial services company was sentenced on Dec. 22 for defrauding investors, filing false tax returns on behalf of certain clients, and filing 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, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Mark L. Wolf to four years in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $159,500 in restitution to the fraud victims, as well as $271,640 to the Internal Revenue Service. In August, 2014, he pleaded guilty to three counts of securities fraud, two counts of procuring false tax returns and three counts of subscribing false tax returns, according to United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

Burton acted as an investment advisor to at least some of his clients and promised to invest their 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 percent 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, officials said.

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 through 2011 tax years.

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, which has a civil case pending against Burton, cooperated with the investigation.