Raymond T. Clark's clients thought they were investing in hedge funds and publicly traded companies.
They didn't know the Amherst financial adviser was pocketing their $870,000 in savings.
On Thursday, Clark, a former Canisius High School football coach, was sentenced to 27 months in prison and ordered to repay his three victims.
"We're talking about people's life savings and you took it from them," said Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr.
In a letter to Geraci, one of the victim's mothers said her son knew Clark for 14 years, became close with him and trusted him with his life savings.
Clark, in his plea agreement, admits stealing $150,000 from the man.
"It did not matter to Ray Clark that my son needed to be paid back." the woman said in her letter. "What mattered to him was joining a country club, driving new cars and taking very nice vacations."
Her son, the woman added, is now being forced to sell his home.
In seeking prison time for Clark, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth R. Moellering pointed to the victims, two of them friends of his, and suggested they also lost trust in someone they believed in.
"The hurt," Moellering said, "went beyond just money."
In his plea agreement, Clark admitted scamming his three victims by promising them investments in hedge funds and publicly traded companies but instead using the money on personal expenses.
One of the victims lost $560,000 to Clark.
"The reality is there are no words that will allow them to forgive," Clark said Thursday.
After 17 years as a financial adviser, Clark was permanently barred from taking part in the securities industry in 2016 and, two years later, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering as part of the criminal case against him.
He said the scam began in early 2013 and lasted until May of 2017 and targeted the three victims.
"He's very aware of the damage he's caused these people," defense attorney Anthony J. Lana said Thursday.
Clark's sentencing is the result of an investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division.