Crime

'Most interested man on Coast' set to plead guilty in fraud case

Eduardo Diaz, an Ocean Springs retirement investor accused of stealing more than $1 million from his client, is scheduled to plead guilty at the end of March.
Eduardo Diaz, an Ocean Springs retirement investor accused of stealing more than $1 million from his client, is scheduled to plead guilty at the end of March.

GULFPORT -- An Ocean Springs retirement investor accused in the theft of more than $1 million from his clients is scheduled to plead guilty next week.

The attorney for Eduardo Diaz informed the court of his client's intention to plead guilty in a motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

A federal grand jury indicted Diaz in October on four counts of investor fraud and two counts of wire fraud.

Diaz initially pleaded not guilty.

According to court records, Diaz lied about potential investments to persuade clients to sink large amounts of money into his firm.

To cover up what he was doing, records say, he shuffled money around, using some clients' money to cover the costs of other investor dividends or to refund or repay previous investors.

To carry out the crime, records say, he misled clients who had relied on him for years to make sound retirement investments for them.

He is accused of committing the crimes in Harrison and Jackson counties between February 2012 and his Oct. 6 indictment.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority disbarred Diaz from the securities industry in April 2014 as part of a settlement agreement.

He did not admit or deny the allegations spelled out in a complaint from an Ocean Springs woman that sparked the investigation. The woman accused Diaz of borrowing money from her and using it for himself.

The loans and investments from the woman totaled $365,000, records show.

According to a FINRA report, Diaz talked the woman into investing in a company he said he controlled that had five rental properties in need of remodeling or refinancing. But Diaz did not own any properties or have any rental sites.

FINRA ruled Diaz lied to the woman to solicit $87,000 in loans from her. According to the reports, Diaz withdrew money from the woman's account at the firm he was working for and transferred it to her personal bank account. He later got the woman to wire the money and a loan payment to his personal bank account.

His bank account, the FINRA report said, contained almost all of the money the woman had invested with him.

Diaz later repaid the loan using money he got by selling securities out of the woman's brokerage account without her knowledge -- he used her own money to pay her back.

Diaz was a registered investor from February 1987 until Jan. 20, 2013, the FINRA report said.

He was a registered agent with American Express Financial Advisors in Minneapolis, Minn.; Sunamera Securities in Phoenix, Ariz; AIG Finanical Advisors in Biloxi; Next Financial Group Inc. in Biloxi; and Kovack Securities Inc., in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

His company profiles said he moved to Ocean Springs in 1987 and helped open the investment retirement firm of Thompson, Diaz, Baxter & Associates in 1993. Diaz Retirement Consultants in Ocean Springs opened in October 2012.

Prior to his arrest in the federal case, Diaz had made a name for himself in South Mississippi in local television ads that referred to him as the "most interested man on the Coast."

In one segment, Diaz says: "In life, it's more important to be interested than to be interesting. I'm interested in helping you retire, retire, retire."

Diaz is free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

His attorney, William Carl Miller, could not be reached for comment.

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