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SEC bans Mass. adviser accused in fraud scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission has banned financial adviser Michael Breton from the industry after an investigation allegedly found that he cheated clients out of about $1.3 million.

Breton and his company, Waltham, Mass.-based Strategic Capital Management LLC, defrauded at least 30 clients during a six-year period through a "cherry-picking" scheme, the regulator said in a release.

According to the SEC, Breton bought securities on days when public companies announced earnings and delayed the allocation of the trades until after companies released results. Trades for companies with positive earnings news that could boost share prices Breton allocated disproportionately to his account. Those that had negative news, and whose stocks would presumably lose value, he tended to allocate to clients' accounts, the SEC said.

"Breton assured clients that he would put their interests first but did just the opposite," said Joseph Sansone, co-chief of the SEC Enforcement Division's market abuse unit.

The commission discovered the alleged scheme through data analysis used to detect suspicious trading patterns.

Breton and his company consented to an order banning them from the securities industry.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for Massachusetts also announced criminal charges against Breton, the regulator said.