A southern Minnesota accountant has been sentenced to 4½ years in prison for stealing nearly $1.6 million from clients, some of whom trusted him with their deceased parents’ estates.

The federal court sentence in St. Paul for Roger H. Goetz Jr., 59, of Waseca, goes beyond federal guidelines and includes restitution for the full amount and three years of court supervision after his release.

“This defendant used his position as a certified public accountant to exploit his most vulnerable clients,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said after Wednesday’s sentencing by Judge Richard Kyle. “Minnesotans trust financial professionals to protect us from unexpected loss. [Goetz] abused that trust for his own financial gain.”

For at least four years, Goetz repeatedly used stolen money from his clients for his teetering company, Core Wafer Systems, a technology service provider.

In its argument seeking 42 months in prison, roughly in the middle of the guideline of 37 to 46 months, the prosecution wrote, “Goetz chose to lie to those clients and steal money that … the parents had saved over decades and intended to pass along as an inheritance to their children.”

The defense sought a sentence below federal guidelines, possibly probation. It noted in a court filing that he is “unfailingly kind and hardworking,” and the devoted father of eight children, one of whom is coping with mental health problems.

The defense added that Goetz “fully intended and believed that [the] victims could be repaid the amounts owed.”

According to Goetz’s guilty plea to wire fraud and documents filed in court:

In 2009, he was hired to file estate taxes for the deceased parents of a client identified as R.W. The client wired $115,000 to Goetz to pay the estimated state tax, but Goetz stole the money.

R.W. unearthed the theft two years later and confronted Goetz. Goetz provided R.W. with phony documents contending that the tax had been paid. The theft forced the client to use his daughters’ college fund to pay the tax and penalties.

In January 2012, Goetz stole $170,000 from T.B., who hired the accountant to prepare estate tax returns for his deceased parents after they had been his clients for more than 20 years. When that client confronted him about the money about a year after he was hired, Goetz wrote a check that bounced.

Court documents reported that Goetz lied to at least nine other investors about purported investments in Core Wafer Systems and in an assisted living facility in New Ulm, Minn.