Articles Tagged with broker

AdobeStock_35532974-1-300x200Stoltmann Law Offices is investigating Adam Lopez, of Springfield, Illinois, who the State of Illinois has alleged swindled clients out of at least $403,000.  According to a Temporary Order Of Suspension and Prohibition filed by the Illinois Securities Department, # 1800493, Lopez advised clients, including family members, to transfer funds out of their Country Capital controlled accounts and in order to participate in better investments, needed to then write checks to Lopez. This fraudulent conversion of his clients’ money also resulted in tax consequences for some of these clients because the money withdrawn was from tax-deferred IRAs.

On September 5, 2018, Country Capital discharged Lopez for cause, apparently related to this conversion scheme. Country Capital’s public disclosure found on FINRA BrokerCheck states that Lopez was “terminated due to termination by affiliated insurance companies for alleged violation of provisions in his insurance agent contract relating to obligations of honesty. Not securities related.”  This self-serving public disclosure by Country Capital does not appear to be forthright. According to the allegations made by the State of Illinois, the recommendations by Lopez to sell certain investments and withdraw IRA funds clearly involve securities and goes well beyond mere dishonesty. Country Capital makes generic disclosures like this in order to deflect responsibility for supervising Lopez, which the complaint by the State of Illinois establishes, the company failed to do in any reasonable manner.

If you or someone you know lost money as a result of misconduct engaged in by former Country Capital financial advisor Adam Lopez, please contact our securities investor-protection law firm in Chicago for a free no obligation consultation with an attorney.  We are a contingency fee firm meaning unless we recover money for you we do not get paid.

Former Ameritas Investment Corporation broker Daniel Kittner, out of Mesa, Arizona, recently resigned from his firm. He was “permitted to resign” from his position at Ameritas “during the firm’s investigation into a customer’s verbal complaint.” In December 2016, a customer alleged that Kittner, while employed at Edward Jones, did not properly advise him with respect to unsuitable investments in mutual funds, stocks, certificates of deposit and variable annuity products. This is against securities laws, and internal firm rules. Ameritas can be held liable for investment losses on a contingency fee basis in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration forum because the firm did not reasonably supervise Mr. Kittner while he was employed there.

According to FINRA records, Mr. Kittner was previously registered with Edward Jones in Prescott Valley, Arizona from May 2001 until March 2006, Wells Fargo in Mesa, Arizona from March 2006 until December 2011 and Ameritas Investment Corp in Mesa from December 2011 until November 2017. He has one customer dispute against him. He is not currently registered as a broker.

According to a recent InvestmentNews article, Zachary Berkey and Daniel Fischer, two brokers with Four Points Capital Partners, were charged with churning the accounts of 10 customers. The brokers clients allegedly lost a total of $573,867, according to the complaint, while the brokers received $106,000 and $175,000 respectively, in commissions. Mr. Fischer is ordered to return his gains with interest and pay a $160,000 fine. He also agreed to be barred from the securities industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a separate action. He was also ordered to pay $5,000 to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in connection with his trading activity. Mr. Berkey’s litigation with the SEC will go to federal district court in Manhattan.

Churning is when a broker excessively trades a customer’s account in order to generate commissions for himself. This can lead to unnecessary fees for the client and is against securities laws. Four Points Capital can be held liable for investment losses, because the firm had a duty to reasonably supervise its employees while they were registered there. Four Points Capital can be sued in the FINRA arbitration forum on a contingency fee basis.

According to FINRA records, Berkey was previously registered with The J.B. Sutton Group, Woodstock Financial Group, National Securities Corp, and Four Points Capital Partners in Melville, New York from April 2013 until January 2015. He has four customer disputes against him and three judgments/liens. He is not currently registered as a broker. Daniel Terry Fischer was previously registered with Monroe Parker Securities, On-Site Trading, Worldco, Quest Capital Strategies, Hold Brothers On-Line Investment Services, E*Trade Securities Dimension Trading Group, Dimension Securities, WTS Proprietary Trading Group, and Four Points Capital in New York, New York from November 2012 until July 2017. He is not currently registered as a broker.

According to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Leslie Koonce, a former broker with LPL Financial, violated securities laws. Allegedly, between January 2012 and March 2015, Koonce participated in several private securities transactions without providing prior written notice to his firm, LPL. He also completed firm compliance questionnaires in which he falsely denied participating in private securities transactions, and he later provided false responses to questions asked by FINRA. These are all against securities laws and internal firm rules. For this misconduct, he was permanently barred from the industry.

According to his FINRA BrokerCheck report online, Mr. Koonce was previously registered with Hornor, Townsend & Kent in Horsham, Pennsylvania from May 1984 until September 1998, Main Street Management Company in Boston, Massachusetts from December 1999 until May 2004, Associated Securities Corp in Menlo Park, California from May 2004 until September 2009, LPL in Menlo Park from September 2009 until December 2015, Cetera Advisor Networks in Menlo Park from December 2015 until December 2015 and EK Riley Investments in Menlo Park from December 2015 until November 2017. He is not currently registered as a broker within the industry.

Stoltmann Law Offices continues to investigate William Heiden, a Wedbush Securities registered broker, who has been subject to nine customer complaints. Allegedly, Mr. Heiden, according to a claim filed in June 2017, breached his fiduciary duty, committed violation of industry rules, and financial elder abuse causing $855,299 in losses. The claim is currently pending. He was also previously accused of making unsuitable investments in a client’s account causing $950,718 in losses. Some of the recommendations were in oil and gas investments. Before a broker can recommend or sell a security such as this, he must do his due diligence on the security in order to determine that it is suitable and appropriate for the client, by taking into account his age, net worth, investment sophistication and investment risk tolerance, among other factors. If he does not, his brokerage firm may be liable for losses on a contingency fee basis. The brokerage firm has a duty to reasonably supervise its employees.

Oil and gas and energy investments can be highly illiquid and risky investments, because of the drop in the price of oil since last year. Many investors have lost money because of unsuitable placements by their brokers in these investments. William Mark Heiden was previously registered with Crowell, Weedon & Co. in Los Angeles, California from June 1997 until September 2000, Sutro & Co. in San Francisco, California from September 2000 until March 2002, RBC Dain Rauscher in Newport Beach, California from March 2002 until April 2007, Morgan Stanley in Newport Beach from April 2007 until June 2009 and Morgan Stanley in Newport Beach from June 2009 until August 2013. He is currently registered with Wedbush Securities in Newport Beach and has been since August 2013. He has nine customer disputes against him, two of which are currently pending. This is according to his online, BrokerCheck report with FINRA. It is public record.

Roger Kroeger, a former broker with Invest Financial Corporation in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, has been accused of misappropriating $300,000 from a 92 year-old woman in Pompano Beach, Florida. Kroeger and his sister have been accused of embezzlement and money laundering of the woman who had been a client of his for over 30 years. Allegedly, two ministers who checked on the woman daily, found suspicious activity on her financial statements including checks written for large amounts. One was for Claudia Mahon, the sister of Roger Kroeger, for $90,000. Kroeger stated that it was a loan from his client to his sister, but the elderly woman stated she had never met Ms. Mahon. A few days later, a cashier’s check for $90,000 marked “loan repayment” arrived for the elderly woman from Ms. Mahon. Allegedly, Kroeger embezzled $290,000 of the woman’s money and put it in his sister’s account. At least $10,000 was used to make improvements on his home. He pleaded guilty to elderly exploitation, organized scheme to defraud, money laundering, grand theft and forging checks.

According to public record with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Mr. Kroeger was previously registered with Shearson Lehman Hutton from July 1986 until July 1988, Glenfed Brokerage Services in Glendale, California from April 1989 until September 1990, and Invest Financial Corp in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida from October 1990 until December 2017. He was terminated from Invest for admitting “to facilitating a loan to his sister from a senior client, and was subsequently charged with multiple felony offenses in connection with these circumstances.” He has one criminal pending charge against him, and is not currently registered as a broker within the industry.

Stoltmann Law Offices is investigating Donald Devito, a former registered broker with Wells Fargo. Mr. Devito was terminated from the bank in December 2016, after it was revealed the firm had concerns over the level of trading in client accounts. In 2016 through 2017, Devito has had six complaints filed against him concerning the level of trading and fees generated in his accounts. Customers have claimed that Devito violated securities laws by engaging in churning, unauthorized trading and unsuitable recommendations among other claims. This means the broker will trade in and out of securities, sometimes the same stock, many times over a short period of time. The account will sometimes “turnover” every month with different securities. This is only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades, and serves no other purpose. Oftentimes, there are unnecessary fees related to the investments, that the client is forced to pay.

Mr. Devito was previously registered with Individual’s Securities from March 1983 until February 1984, Merrill Lynch in New York, New York from March 1984 until January 2000, Morgan Stanley in Albany, New York from January 2000 until February 2007 and Wells Fargo Advisors in Albany from February 2007 until December 2016. He has 10 customer disputes against him, one of which is currently pending. He is not currently registered as a broker within the industry.

According to a Disciplinary Proceeding with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), former SW Financial broker Douglas Leone was accused of making potentially unsuitable and excessive transactions in multiple customer accounts. Mr. Leone also failed to appear and provide testimony regarding FINRA’s investigation of him. These are against securities laws and internal firm rules. Excessive trading, also referred to as “churning,” is a particularly egregious form of misconduct by a broker. It is when the broker trades in and out of securities, sometimes in the same stock on the same day, in order to generate large commissions for himself. This typically results in the customer having to pay unnecessary fees. SW Financial may be held liable for investment losses because the firm has a reasonable duty to only recommend and sell those investments that are suitable for customers, based on their age, net worth, investment objectives and investment sophistication. If he does not, the firm may be responsible for money losses in the FINRA arbitration forum on a contingency fee basis.

Douglas Anthony Leone, according to public FINRA records, was previously registered with Gruntal & Co., Gaines, Berland Inc., Renaissance Financial Securities Corp, La Jolla Capital Corp, Foster Jeffries Securities, Cambridge Capital, Whitehall Wellington Investments, Advanced Planning Securities, Joseph Stevens & Company, Basic Investors, Newport Coast Securities and Salomon Whitney Financial (SW Financial) in Melville, New York from March 2013 until March 2017. He has seven customer disputes against him, alleging failure to sell and misrepresentation, fraud and deceit, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, unsuitability, unauthorized trades, failure to correct, excessive commissions, and churning. He has been suspended, and is not currently registered as a broker within the industry.

Recently, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) fined Wells Fargo broker Scott Wallach $5,000 and suspended him for one month. It also ordered him to pay $873.50, plus interest, in disgorgement of commissions received for allegedly effecting five unauthorized trades in a client account while the client was on vacation. He allegedly sold shares of two securities the client owned and used the proceeds from those sales to purchase a preferred bond in the client’s account. Wallach allegedly sold shares in one security the client owned and used the proceeds to purchase shares in another security. He earned $873.59 in commissions for the five trades. He was also accused of “conducting excessive trading” in an account, unauthorized trading, misrepresentation of commissions, unsuitable investments, and lost opportunity. All of these are against securities laws. Excessive trading, also known as churning, is a particularly egregious violation of securities laws, and is when a broker trades in and out of securities, many times in the same day and of the same security. This can lead to large commissions for the broker, but unnecessary fees for the client.

According to public records with FINRA, Scott Jason Wallach was previously registered with Continental Broker-Dealer Corp in Carle Place, New York from August 1998 until December 1998, Painewebber Inc. in Weehawken, New Jersey from January 1999 until December 1999, Prudential Securities Inc. in New York, New York from December 1999 until July 2003, and Wells Fargo Clearing Services in Paramus, New Jersey from July 2003 until October 2017. He is currently registered with Comprehensive Asset Management and Servicing in Parsippany, New Jersey, and has been since November 2017. He has two customer disputes against him.

According to a recent Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Larry Boggs allegedly engaged in excessive and unsuitable trading in the accounts of five customer households. He also allegedly changed the investment objectives and risk tolerance for several customers in order that they would conform to his high-frequency trading strategy, even though the customers’ investment objectives and risk tolerance had not changed. These are against securities laws. Excessive trading, also referred to as “churning,” is when a broker trades in and out of a security in order to generate large commissions for himself. This typically leads to the customer having to pay unnecessary fees. It is a particularly egregious violation of securities laws and internal firm rules. At the time of the misconduct, which was between January 2014 and May 2015, Boggs was registered with Ameriprise. He was permanently barred from the industry.

Brokerage firms such as Ameriprise have an obligation to reasonably supervise their employees to make sure they do not violate securities laws and internal firm rules. If the firm does not do so, it can be held liable for losses on a contingency fee basis in the FINRA arbitration forum. Mr. Boggs, according to FINRA, was previously registered with Merrill Lynch, Prudential Securities, Wells Fargo, Ameriprise Advisor Services in Richardson, Texas from July 2009 until October 2009, Ameriprise Financial Services in Dallas, Texas from October 2009 until May 2015 and Wedbush Securities in Dallas from May 2015 until July 2016. He is not currently registered as a broker within the industry.

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