General Crime

* Steven Kobayashi Sent to Prison for Stealing $5.4 Million from Friends and Relatives

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A former financial adviser from Livermore has been sentenced in federal court in Oakland to more than five years in prison for stealing $5.4 million from his clients. Steven Kobayashi, 39, of Livermore, was an adviser in the Walnut Creek office of United Bank of Switzerland Financial Services Inc. from 2006 to 2009. He admitted in his guilty plea in June to stealing more than $5.4 million from clients — including relatives and friends — during that time by transferring their money to his personal bank accounts.

He pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. He was sentenced by Wilken on Wednesday to five years and five months in prison. Prosecutors and Kobayashi had agreed to the term in his plea agreement. Prosecutors said in a sentencing brief that Kobayashi spent the money on gambling, drinking, cars and prostitutes. They wrote that some of the victimized relatives and friends “are emotionally and financially devastated by Kobayashi’s actions, reporting the loss of most of their life savings.” U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said the victims have not yet received any of their money back.

Wilken will hold a hearing on Oct. 19 to determine the amount of restitution due to the defrauded clients. In a letter submitted to the court, Kobayashi said he accepts responsibility and apologizes for “the hurt, emotional and financial, that I have inflicted on so many people.” His defense lawyer said in a sentencing brief that Kobayashi hopes to obtain treatment while in prison for his alcohol and gambling addictions.

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