Victims share stories of money lost to convicted Miami County financial adviser

Scott Fries is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 24 on multiple charges, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity

TROY — Victims of a Piqua man who admitted to theft and misrepresentation — stealing tens of thousands of dollars from people via the sale of securities — testified Wednesday how Scott Fries used personal connections to attract their investments.

Among the victims was an Urbana couple who said they knew Fries from the husband’s coaching of youth in Piqua. As a result, they were comfortable investing $10,000 they were saving for their children, with Fries.

They later felt cheated out of their money and lost a friendship along the way, the couple told Judge Stacy Wall in Miami County Common Pleas Court.

An elderly man from Troy said he met Fries through Fries’ parents, whom he had met at a campground. He invested $55,000 through Fries.

The money was all he had, the man said, adding his decision on the investment nearly cost him his marriage of more than 30 years.

Another man met Fries through his dad, who also was a victim. The son said he invested $150,000 from a lawsuit settlement following his near death in a traffic accident. The money, intended for his future family, was gone by the time his children arrived, the man who lives in Tipp City said. He was heartbroken, disgusted and felt victimized, the man said.

Fries, 55, earlier pleaded no contest and was found guilty in Miami County Common Pleas Court to 16 felony charges as part of a plea deal in a case that originally included more than 40 felonies. As part of that deal, he agreed to pay $418,000 in restitution and to sell a house on Sioux Drive in Piqua. The sale was closed this week, according to statements in court.

Fries will be sentenced on Feb. 24 on felony charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft, misrepresentation in the sale of securities, securities fraud, theft from a person in a special class (elderly), grand theft, aggravated theft and fraudulent conduct as an investment adviser.

Wall said during Wednesday’s hearing that although she was scheduled to also impose the sentence on Fries, the sentencing itself would come later due to the need to clarify some legal and financial issues.

The corrupt activity charge was filed against Fries individually and the Fries Financial Group. Fries remains free on bail.

Most of those testifying said they first heard of problems with the investments when they received calls from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC earlier filed a civil judgment of more than $700,000 including interest against Fries. That judgment has not been paid.

The case before Wall is a criminal action, with the crimes taking place between 2014 and 2019.

Defense lawyer Thomas Kollin said another victim, now deceased, invested $100,000 through Fries, who he said has repaid around $60,000. Paul Watkins, first assistant county prosecutor, said that victim died just after the criminal case was filed. Prosecutors’ records showed around $9,000 in payments, he said.

Wall said she would need to see evidence of how much has been repaid.

Fries told Wall he has sold his house and his truck and worked overtime to be able to make some payments.

“I know I am not going to restore the trust, but I want to pay them back,” Fries said of the victims.

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