authorities2aMaxwell Smith, a 69-year-old financial advisor and Fair Haven resident, pleaded guilty to fraud charges yesterday, admitting he stole at least $8 million from clients.

He faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper in Trenton on February 26. Meantime, he’s free on $1 million bail, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark.

Smith, who worked at Cantone Research in Tinton Falls until last April, admitted to Cooper that he set up a phony investment fund that purportedly had $300 million under management as a means of attracting investments from clients.

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authorities2bA former broker at the Red Bank office of Merrill Lynch was indicted by a Monmouth County grand jury yesterday on charges that he swindled $500,000 from more than two dozen clients.

Forty-year-old Steven Severio of Fair Haven is alleged to have persuaded  investors to cash out of some holdings and roll over the proceeds into new investments, for which he promised returns to 15 to 20 percent, according to a statment issued by Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin.

Instead, Severio desposited the funds into his own account, without making any investments. In some cases, he cashed the checks at a local check-cashing service, Valentin said.

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