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Kirkland financial planner charged Wednesday with mail fraud

Financial planner Rhonda Breard, who's company Breard & Associates Wealth Management is based in Kirkland, was charged Wednesday with mail fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud dozens of clients out of millions of dollars, said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan in a statement through the U.S. Attorney's Web site.

Breard was scheduled for arraignment at 2:30 p.m. before a U.S. magistrate judge at U.S. District court in Seattle.

“Investigators are still determining the extent of the fraud,” said Durkan in the release. “We are aggressively trying to learn information about her clients and assets, and we want any assets preserved for victims in this case. We will ask the court to impose a condition that Ms. Breard not dispose of any assets while the investigation into the full scope of the fraud continues.”

The single charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

"The criminal complaint details how victims in this case trusted Breard with their money after hearing her speak in investment classes at locations such as community colleges," said the release. "Some had invested with Breard for more than twenty years."

State financial regulators have said that more than 20 investors might have lost upwards of $8 million.

Breard has hired former federal prosecutor Ronald Friedman to represent her.

This action is the second case filed against Breard this week, as James and Shelley Heath of Renton filed a lawsuit against Breard, associate Colleen Brown and ING Financial, claiming that money they invested with Breard & Associates Wealth Management is missing.

Breard has a checkered past with fines totaling $95,000. She was forced to quit Smith Barney and her license was suspended for unauthorized trading.

This story will be updated when more information is available.

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