Former Centerville broker: Search warrants unjustified

John Gregory Schmidt, right, confers with his attorney Stevey Pierson in the Montgomery County Common Pleas Courtroom of Gregory Singer on Wednesday during a motion to suppress evidence hearing. Schmidt has been indicted for 128 felony counts related to securities fraud from his work as a financial advisor. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Caption
John Gregory Schmidt, right, confers with his attorney Stevey Pierson in the Montgomery County Common Pleas Courtroom of Gregory Singer on Wednesday during a motion to suppress evidence hearing. Schmidt has been indicted for 128 felony counts related to securities fraud from his work as a financial advisor. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

A former financial adviser accused of fraud has challenged searches of his property, and a Montgomery County Common Pleas judge said Wednesday he’ll rule in a month on whether that evidence can be used in a prosecution.

John Gregory Schmidt faces criminal charges after a December indictment on 128 felony counts related to alleged securities fraud in his work as a Dayton-area financial advisor.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Schmidt in federal court last year, and in that civil case, U.S. District Judge Walter Rice ordered Schmidt last week to pay more than $1.1 million.

The SEC charged Schmidt with moving money from customers’ accounts to cover shortfalls or losses in other customers’ accounts.

Mike Gantt, 75, of Kettering, said he and two of his brothers were clients of Schmidt’s.

RELATEDSchemes to defraud older investors are getting worse

“I had a nervous breakdown,” Gantt said Wednesday after a hearing in Judge Gregory Singer’s courtroom. “My account never did change. It just basically stayed the same.”

He said his son at one point shared misgivings and another financial adviser told Gantt, “My account should be double what it is. Double. He said, ‘You really got the shaft on this.’”

Gantt declined to say how much he believes he lost as a result of Schmidt’s alleged actions.

The SEC and county prosecutors have said many of Schmidt’s alleged victims were older, some of them suffering from dementia. In its original complaint last year, the SEC charged Schmidt with continuing to defraud a client even after he died.

RELATEDSEC charges man with 'rob Peter to pay Paul' scheme

“There’s no question, he took advantage of my one brother, who has dementia,” Gantt said. “My other brother … has Alzheimer’s (disease). My whole family, it affected my family.”

In the criminal case, Schmidt and his attorneys moved to suppress evidence investigators seized in a 2017 search of Schmidt’s Paragon Road property, as well as a further search of “devices” owned by Schmidt.

The motion filed by Schmidt’s attorneys argues that investigators had no probable cause to search the property and that the search itself was “too general, leaving too much discretion to law enforcement officers as to what is to be seized.”

SCAM GUIDE: What to know and how to protect yourself 

The motion also argues that investigators relied on an “unreliable informant.”

The motion also seeks to suppress anything Schmidt told investigators before he was read his Miranda rights.

Schmidt’s attorney, Steven Pierson, declined to take questions Wednesday.

The defense is challenging whether there was probable cause for the search in the warrant itself, said Anthony Schoen, trial supervisor of the Montgomery County prosecutor’s criminal division.

“They’re just asking the court to do an analysis, to make a decision on whether the probable cause exists to go in, to confiscate the items that were confiscated for the investigation,” Schoen said after the hearing.

During the hearing, Schoen told Singer that some of the evidence from the first search will be submitted as “state’s exhibit 1” when the case goes to trial.

Pierson told the judge he was satisfied there was no “franks issue” in the searches.

A “franks” challenge against a search alleges that investigators lied or made misstatements in an application for a warrant. The word is a reference to a judicial case known as “Franks v. Delaware.”

“There is no franks issue,” Pierson said in the hearing.

Singer will review the two warrants and issue a decision on March 26, he said in a brief statement from the bench.