Ex-Bridgewater official gets four years for stealing $1.7 million

Former securities broker and Bridgewater town official Gregory Buchholz was sentenced Monday to four years in federal prison for stealing nearly $1.7 million from his clients.

The sentence handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Janet C. Reynolds was twice as long as the one sought by defense attorney Thomas Seigel, who asked that his client get a two-year term.

It was also less than the recommendation made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Murphy, who recommended Mr. Buchholz spend a minimum of five years and three months behind bars after he pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud in November.

"Greg very much respects the decision of the court, and he looks forward to getting back to his family as soon as possible," Mr. Seigel said.

The 46-year-old Mr. Buchholz, who was chairman of the Bridgewater Board of Finance and was a member of the town's Board of Trustees, will be on probation for three years after he completes his prison term.

He no longer holds either town post.

The married father of two was a registered securities broker who operated his own business and worked as an independent contractor in the Southbury office of Raymond James Financial Services Inc.

Mr. Buchholz embezzled money from at least 10 of his clients over a nine-year period beginning in 2001, according to federal prosecutors.

As part of the scheme, he liquidated securities belonging to his clients, some of them retirees, and deposited the money into his own bank accounts.

In cases where checks for the sales were sent directly to his clients, Mr. Buchholz convinced them to turn the money over to him, claiming it would be invested on their behalf, according to court documents.

First Selectman Bill Stuart was one of two people who addressed the court and sought leniency for Mr. Buchholz, who in addition to his municipal service was active as a youth sports coach.

"Greg has done an awful lot for the town of Bridgewater," Mr. Stuart said after the hearing. "I've been in office for 27 years, and I've seen a lot of people come and go, but he has been a giving guy in terms of time and energy."

"He committed a serious crime over a period of years, but I thought leniency was something that should be considered," Mr. Stuart said.

U.S. Attorney David Fein said Raymond James Financial Services agreed to make restitution to Mr. Buchholz's victims, and to date most of the money has been repaid.

As part of his sentence, Mr. Buchholz will have to reimburse Raymond James, Mr. Fein said.

Mr. Buchholz is awaiting word from the federal Bureau of Prisons about where he will serve his sentence and when he must turn himself in, Mr. Seigel said.