Stoltmann Law Offices is investigating allegations in a grand jury indictment in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, levied against Keith Todd Ashley, of Collin County, Texas. According to the indictment, which was filed on November 13, 2020, Ashley ran a Ponzi scheme while a registered representative for Parkland Securities, formally known Sammons Securities Company, and Midland National, a life insurance and annuity company. According to the indictment, Ashley recommended investors purchase UITs (Unit Investment Trusts) through Parkland and another entity called SmartTrust, which was an investment offered by another brokerage firm, Hennion & Walsh. The indictment alleges that Ashley made representations via email to clients that these investments offered returns of anywhere between 3% and 9% per year, with no risk to the investor’s principal, and that the securities were offered through Parkland and SmartTrust. The indictment further alleges that instead of investing the money as represented, Ashley converted a substantial amount of it – more than $1 million – for his own use.
If you invested with Keith Ashley and believe you have suffered losses in connection with his alleged Ponzi scheme, please contact Stoltmann Law Offices, at 312-332-4200 for a free, no obligation consultation with a securities attorney.
The news in connection with Mr. Ashley and his scheme turned quite dark just this afternoon when the publication Investment News ran a story indicating that Ashley was arrested in Carrolton,Texas on suspicion of committing murder. The story reports that Ashley is accused of murdering an investor-client in February 2020, staging the murder as a suicide, in some attempt to gain access to the victim’s money. Ashley was discharged from Parkland Securities in October suggesting he was fired for failing to disclose outside business activities. This is a common response by brokerage firms when it turns out that one of their registered representatives has been running a Ponzi scheme.
Victims Can Recover Their Losses Through FINRA Arbitration
Victims of Ashley’s scheme can seek compensation for their losses by filing a claim in arbitration through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This is the surest and most direct path to recovery. The records available reflect that Ashley pulled off this long-running Ponzi scheme while he was registered as a FINRA-licensed representative of Parkland Securities. The indictment indicates that at least some of his victims were actual clients of Parkland Securities and that part of Ashley’s scheme involved representing to victims that the investments were all run through Parkland Securities, in order to give this fraudulent scheme and air of legitimacy. As a FINRA member firm, any disputes against Parkland need to be filed in arbitration before FINRA. These claims usually take 6-12 months to reach a resolution and because it is arbitration and not court litigation, discovery is limited and its a private, confidential process.
FINRA Rules mandate that firms like Parkland Securities have reasonable supervisory procedures in place to monitor brokers like Ashley. These rules are anchored in the Securities Exchange Act and have existed since the 1930s. FINRA Rule 3110 specifically mandates these supervisory procedures be effective to prevent and to deter violations of the securities laws. Typically, in cases where a licensed broker was pulling off a Ponzi scheme, there were “red flags” over time that the advisor was involved in something untoward or at a minimum, potentially was violating FINRA rules and securities laws and regulations. These red flags can sometimes take the form of emails or text messages (which brokerage firms are required to supervise), suspicious transactions, or evidence that suggests the broker is living a lifestyle beyond his legitimate means. Taken together, red flags can be used to build a compelling case against the brokerage firm for negligent supervision.
If you or someone you know is a victim of Keith Ashley’s alleged Ponzi scheme, please contact Chicago-based Stoltmann Law Offices at 312-332-4200 for a no obligation initial consultation. We are a securities and investor-protection firm that offers representation to clients nationwide on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not get paid until you do.