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LPL terminated financial advisor Dain F. Stokes on August 28, 2019 for selling unregistered promissory notes to clients that purported to invest in a project in Africa allegedly sponsored by Taylor Swift. According to InvestmentNews, Stokes converted at least $576,000 from two clients, whom he solicited to invest in this phony charity project, which he sold as being created by Swift to help needy people in Africa. Stokes claimed to have a close relationship with Swift, telling clients that she personally hired him to manage the finances of the Africa project and to promote a new song release by her in June 2019. He also told clients that Bill Gates was involved in the project.

The State of New Hampshire Department of State Bureau of Securities Regulation filed a petition and order against Stokes after an investor (“Investor #1”) invested $201,000 in the Africa Project between August 1, 2018 and January 25, 2019. Stokes used promissory notes to facilitate these investments. According to the promissory notes, Investor #1 would receive the return of his entire principal plus 20% interest by making this investment. Payment on the first promissory note was initially due by November 8, 2018, however the due date was continually pushed back by Stokes. At one point, he even told his client that President Donald Trump allegedly froze his assets. Stokes was ordered to pay $201,000 plus interest in restitution to Investor #1 and a $20,000 fine for violating New Hampshire Blue Sky Laws, which prohibit the fraudulent sale of securities (RSA 421-B:5-501) and the sale of unregistered securities (RSA 421-B:3-301(a)). To date, a second investor who invested $375,000 has come forward.  The New Hampshire Department of State Bureau of Securities Regulation has since frozen Stokes’ assets and issued an injunction prohibiting him from speaking with those who invested in this scam.

New Hampshire authorities interviewed Stokes, who refused to provide any details about the African charity, claiming that all information, including the name, was privileged. He also refused to reveal whether the checks, which were made payable to him personally, were invested in his personal accounts.

In the past year, proposed legislation requiring vaccines for all children has skyrocketed. As of February 2019, over 100 bills were proposed across 30 states to amend vaccine requirements and rights. Through these bills, state and federal government seek to eliminate religious and philosophical exemptions, and limit medical exemptions.

On a Federal level, Representative Frederica Wilson (Democrat) of Florida’s 24th Congressional District introduced H.R. 2527 “Vaccinate All Children Act of 2019” on May 3, 2019. This bill proposes to “amend the Public Health Service Act to condition receipt by States (and political subdivisions and public entities of States) of preventive health services grants on the establishment of a State requirement for students in public elementary and secondary schools to be vaccinated in accordance with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and for other purposes.” This act does not provide for any religious or philosophical vaccines exemptions. A child with a medical exemption must provide written certification annually, in which the physician must “demonstrat[e] (to the satisfaction of the individual in charge of the health program at the student’s school) that the physician’s opinion conforms to the accepted standard of medical care.” There is no further explanation provided as to what constitutes a medical exemption the in the bill.

The conditions in a recipient that may warrant a medical exemption are referred to as “contraindications”. The CDC also recognizes “precautions” that should be taken and result in the delay of some vaccines. Unfortunately, these contraindications and precautions are often viewed as “temporary”, or are only present after an individual or immediate relative has already had an adverse reaction to a vaccine. For example, the CDC does not recommend vaccinating children with the MMR vaccine to “severely immunocompromised persons”. In another example, only after a child has suffered encephalopathy (i.e. brain injury) after receiving a pertussis vaccine does the CDC advise against the child receiving another dose of the vaccine. In many cases, for these children the damage is already done. It is common for children to experience less severe symptoms, such as fevers, from the first dose of vaccine, only to be forced to receive additional doses. The compounding affect can cause more severe injuries, immune deficiency disorders, and irreversible damage. This is why medical exemptions are often insufficient to protect children.

Earlier this year, the CFP Board took away the CFP’s rights to sue the Board in court and imposed a new mandatory arbitration policy. Many argue that the new arbitration policy has a lack of transparency. On September 12th, two changes will be made to the new arbitration policy:

  1. The Board will create a public database of arbitration cases, while keeping CFPs’ identities anonymous
  2. CFPs will be allowed to speak publicly about their arbitration cases against the Board.

Stoltmann Law Offices continues to investigate Keith M. Rogers, a former broker with G.L.S. Associates. In October 2014, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) permanently barred Rogers from the industry, for failing to appear for an interview. FINRA was investigating allegations that Rogers stole money from his clients and sold unauthorized investments in R&P Development LLC. Rogers allegedly ran the scheme from October 2009 until July 2013. The Alabama Securities Commission also issued a cease and desist order against Rogers and ordered him to refrain from selling unregistered securities of R&P Development. Rogers was arrested on June 19th for crimes of committing four counts of stock fraud, and six counts of omissions/misrepresentations in the sale of securities. Rogers was sued last year by former Alabama and NFL running back Kenneth Darby for $2.4 million. His lawsuit alleged that Rogers persuaded him to invest $250,000 in an account and then used the money for his own personal gain.

Rogers was associated with G.L.S. & Associates in Huntsville, Alabama, from January 2006 until January 2013. He has one customer dispute against him that is currently pending. He is not licensed to practice within the industry, and FINRA permanently barred him from acting as a broker or otherwise associating with firms that sell securities to the public.

You may sue G.L.S. & Associates for not actively, reasonably and properly supervising Keith Michael Rogers while he was employed there. They had a duty to do so, and, because they did not, can be liable for any financial losses you may have suffered at the hands of Keith Michael Rogers. Please call our securities law firm at 312-332-4200 to speak to one of our attorneys about your options. We take cases on a contingency fee basis and the call is free with no obligation.

Marijuana-related securities have blossomed in the past few years, taking the form of over-the-counter or penny stocks and special funds for accredited investors. This is because marijuana has been legalized at the state level in some states, but the fact remains that it is still not legal at the federal level. The feds still have the right to arrest any business that tries to get in on the selling of the product. In May 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued an investor alert about marijuana-related investments, in which it said “marijuana-related companies may be at risk of federal, and perhaps state, criminal prosecution. Nothwithstanding the federal ban, as of the date of this guidance, 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized certain marijuana-related activity.” This week the Wall Street Journal published an article warning about the risks associated with Marijuana stocks.

Funds that specialize in marijuana-related securities such as the High Times Growth Fund and Marijuana Investment Co., are not public, and are currently open only to accredited investors, although Marijuana Investment Co is planning to file for an initial public offering. Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds will be looking into marijuana-related businesses soon. Says Alan Brochstein, a financial adviser who runs the newsletter “420 Investor,” “I don’t think there will be funds and ETFs in the cannabis sector for at least a couple of years. Liquidity in this space is poor, so mostly you have over-the-counter stocks trading publicly.” Legal sales of marijuana are expected to quintuple to as much as $8 billion in 2019 from $1.6 billion in 2013, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

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