Kirkland financial planner gets 6 years for taking $12 million from her clients

SEATTLE - A Kirkland financial planner who pleaded guilty to taking $12 million from her clients' investment accounts was sentenced Wednesday to more than six years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman praised Rhonda Breard for cooperating with authorities after she was caught this year, issuing a sentence that was not as severe as the eight years recommended by prosecutors.

Breard pleaded guilty in April to one count of mail fraud and admitted that she concealed the decade-long scheme by mailing fake account statements to clients. It was uncovered after a surprise audit by ING Financial Partners, which says it’s working to reimburse Breard’s clients.

Her victims said Breard devastated them emotionally and financially, and accused her of pretending to be apologetic in an effort to minimize her potential prison time. Some had insisted that Breard be sentenced to the maximum 20-year term.

Even Breard herself said she deserved the maximum.

“I don’t feel I deserve any breaks,” the tearful 49-year-old mother of three told the court. “But I would like to be in my children’s lives.”

Breard used the money on three expensive homes, travel, jewelry, and more than two dozen vehicles. She tried to commit suicide after her fraud came to light.

Prosecutors said she has accounted for every penny she stole. She turned over $250,000 to the government, as well as the rest of her assets, but their value was not enough to cover how much she took from her clients’ retirement, college savings and other investment accounts.

Pechman said that in her 22 years on the bench, she had “never seen anybody who came forward in quite the same way.”