The list of Daniel Thibeault’s financial fraud victims includes investors and retirees, his colleagues, associates, old college roommates, his nanny, and even his mother.
And one by one, more than a dozen of his victims told a federal judge on Thursday that he had cheated them of their life savings, betrayed their trust, and that he should pay back the $15 million he stole, along with serving a lengthy prison term. All except his mother, who attributed Thibeault’s wrongdoing to a drug and prescription drug addiction, and who asked for mercy.
After a five-hour hearing, US District Judge Leo T. Sorokin sentenced the 41-year-old Thibeault to nine years in prison, a significant sentence compared to similar financial fraud crimes.
“It’s a long sentence, nine years in federal prison, but this was bad,” Sorokin said. “You were a financial advisor. This is a serious offense, with a lot of money, that went on for a long time.”
The judge handed down the sentence just moments after Thibeault had publicly apologized to his victims — turning to the gallery, placing the microphone in front of him, and singling out each one who had made statements to the court.
“I became unethical, that’s it,” he said, tearfully. “I totally lost perspective.”
The victims, self-described blue-collar workers, packed the courtroom and watched in silence as their former financial adviser admitted to white-collar crime in federal court.
Thibeault seemed to have it all. He was an Ivy League-educated businessman, a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School who once worked at the prestigious financial institution Goldman Sachs.
He had founded his own company, Graduate Leverage LLC, to provide loans and financial advice to low-risk graduate students. He also began serving as the co-portfolio manager of the GL Beyond Income Fund, a mutual fund launched in March 2012 that purported to invest in low-risk loans to professionals who would not be affected by economic downturns, such as doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and attorneys.
Thibeault pleaded guilty in March to fraud for having the GL Beyond Income Fund issue several dozen fake loans to people who had not applied for one, and were unaware of the scheme. Instead, Thibeault used the money to pay for operating expenses at Graduate Leverage and its affiliated entities, and to pay for some of Thibeault’s own personal expenses.
Thibeault’s scheme involved issuing the phony loans and then diverting that money to his other businesses.
By the time he was arrested in December 2014, more than $15 million — or more than 40 percent of the Beyond Income Fund’s total assets — had been diverted elsewhere.
Timothy Watkins, an attorney for Thibeault, had asked that he serve only three years in prison, saying Thibeault did not divert the money into his own personal accounts.
But Assistant US Attorney Stephen E. Frank argued that Thibeault lied to investigators, and that he continued to divert peoples’ investments after he was already under investigation.