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Manhattan Fund Manager Found Guilty on Fraud Charges Involving Clients’ Money

NEW YORK (77WABC) – On Thursday, Donald Laguardia of Lavallette New Jersey, was found guilty on all three charges: securities fraud, wire fraud, and investment adviser fraud in connection with his operation of a now-bankrupt New York-based investment firm, L-R Managers, LLC.

Over several years, Laguardia, the 52 year old chief executive officer and co-founder of L-R Managers, misappropriated more than $1.5 million from private investment funds managed by the firm and used the stolen money to finance his personal and business expenses.

USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said: “Mr. Laguardia showed a reckless disregard for his clients when he allegedly misappropriated their investment money to fund personal and business expenses.  This is a clear case of greed overshadowing honest business practices.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment,[1]:

From in or about 2013 through in or about 2017, LAGUARDIA solicited millions of dollars from investors for the LR Global Frontier Master Fund and two related feeder funds (collectively, the “Frontier Funds”), which had a stated focus on investments in “frontier” markets in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.  Contrary to LAGUARDIA’s representations, and in breach of his duties to investors in the Frontier Funds, LAGUARDIA misappropriated investors’ money to finance L-R Managers’ payroll, rent for its office space on Park Avenue in Manhattan, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges on the firm’s credit card, among other unauthorized expenses.  At least $191,000 of the misappropriated money went directly to, or for the benefit of, LAGUARDIA personally.

In one example, in 2013, LAGUARDIA solicited an $800,000 investment in the Frontier Funds from an investor (“Investor-1”).  Upon receipt of Investor-1’s money, an L-R Managers employee sent an email to LAGUARDIA and another person asking for approval to forward the $800,000 to the Frontier Funds.  LAGUARDIA responded, “Dont [sic] wire anything yet!”  LAGUARDIA then caused approximately $390,000 of Investor-1’s investment never to be transmitted to the Frontier Funds, but instead to be used to pay himself approximately $52,000 and for various other personal and business expenses.

Laguardia faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of the securities and wire fraud counts and a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the investment adviser fraud count.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the judge.

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