Financial Advisor Guilty of Stealing from Dormant Bank Accounts

PHOENIX - Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Steven Watson, who stole from bank customers’ dormant accounts, was convicted by a Maricopa County jury on one count of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices and seven counts of Theft.    
Back in 2014, Watson was an associate financial advisor at a bank and developed a plan to steal money from customer accounts that were dormant.  The accounts were dormant due to inactivity or the beneficiary did not claim the money on the accounts. 
An investigation by the bank began when one of the beneficiaries, the Salvation Army, requested disbursement of the money that was to be distributed to the organization upon the death of the account owner.  Special Agents with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Phoenix Division of the FBI, along with an FBI Forensic Accountant, investigated the case and found that Watson represented to the bank tellers that he had the authority to request cashier checks from the account.  Watson received approximately $169,528.23 in stolen proceeds from three accounts between October 21, 2014, and November 14, 2014.  The cashier checks were issued to another individual or in the name of a fictitious business Watson created.  By the end of January 2015, Watson spent all of the stolen money on vehicles, vacations, adult entertainment, and child support.  The investigation revealed the proceeds from the accounts were specified to go to family members of the deceased, the Salvation Army, and the Red Cross.
Watson’s trial started on August 22nd and finished on September 6th.
A sentencing hearing for Watson is scheduled for November 9, 2018.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Joseph Waters and Adam Schwartz.