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Benjamin FosterPublic records provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on February 21, 2018 indicate that Florida-based Merrill Lynch broker/adviser Benjamin Foster is involved in a pending customer dispute. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Mr. Foster (CRD# 4562080).

Benjamin Foster has spent 15 years in the securities industry and has been registered with Merrill Lynch in West Palm Beach, Florida since 2015. Previous registrations include Barclays Capital in Palm Beach, Florida (2008-2015); Lehman Brothers in Chicago, Illinois (2005-2008); and Bear Stearns & Company in New York, New York (2002-2005). He has passed three securities industry examinations: Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law Examination), which he obtained on November 2, 2002; Series 3 (National Commodity Futures Examination), which he obtained on February 18, 2014; and Series 7 (General Securities Representative Examination), which he obtained on October 14, 2002. He is a registered broker and investment adviser with 19 US states and territories: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. His 21 self-regulatory organization (SRO) registrations include: BOX Options Exchange LLC, Bats BZX Exchange, C2 Options Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the Chicago Stock Exchange, FINRA, Investors’ Exchange LLC, NYSE American LLC, Nasdaq ISE LLC, the Nasdaq Stock Market, and the New York Stock Exchange.

According to his BrokerCheck report, he has received one pending customer complaint.

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Mark ReinkingPublicly available records published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on February 21, 2018 indicate that former Colorado-based Leaders Group broker/adviser Mark Reinking has received a pending customer dispute and is currently not affiliated with any broker-dealer firm. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in speaking to investors who have complaints regarding Mr. Reinking (CRD# 1602957).

Mark Reinking has spent 27 years in the securities industry and was most recently registered with The Leaders Group in Littleton, Colorado (2015-2017). Previous registrations include Centaurus Financial in Austin, Texas (2010-2013); Sunset Financial Services in Austin, Texas (1997-2010); Intersecurities in St. Petersburg, Florida (1993-1997); IFG Network Securities in Atlanta, Georgia (1992-1993); and First America National Securities in Duluth, Georgia (1987-1992). He has passed four securities industry examinations: Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination), which he obtained on January 13, 1987; Series 7 (General Securities Representative Examination), which he obtained on July 20, 1998; Series 6 (Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Representative Examination), which he obtained on January 13, 1987; and Series 26 (Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Principal Examination), which he obtained on December 22, 1988. He is currently not affiliated with any broker-dealer firm.

According to his BrokerCheck report, he has received one pending customer complaint and one denied customer complaint.

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Christopher HibbardPublicly available records published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on February 21, 2018 indicate that former Kentucky-based Merrill Lynch broker/adviser Christopher Hibbard is involved in a pending customer dispute and was discharged from his former employer in connection to alleged rule violations. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Mr. Hibbard (CRD# 3176484).

Christopher Hibbard has spent 18 years in the securities industry and was most recently registered with Merrill Lynch in Louisville, Kentucky (2010-2018). Previous registrations include Morgan Keegan & Company in Louisville, Kentucky (2004-2010) and AG Edwards & Sons in St. Louis, Missouri (1999-2004). He has passed two securities industry examinations: Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination), which he obtained on April 5, 1999, and Series 7 (General Securities Representative Examination), which he obtained on March 16, 1999. He is currently not registered with any state or firm.

According to his BrokerCheck report, Christopher Hibbard has received one pending customer complaint and was discharged from his former employer in connection to alleged rule violations.

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Guy Conger

Public records published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on February 20, 2017 indicate that Texas-based Money Concepts Capital Corporation broker/adviser Guy Conger has been sanctioned by FINRA in connection to alleged rule violations and received a customer dispute. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Mr. Conger (CRD# 2280420).

Guy Conger has spent 19 years in the securities industry and was most recently registered with Money Concepts Capital Corporation in San Antonio, Texas (2002-2017). Previous registrations include Waddell & Reed in Overland Park, Kansas (1998-2002); SunAmerica Securities in Phoenix, Arizona (1997); American Express Financial Advisors in Minneapolis, Minnesota (1997); and the Champion Group in Shavano Park, Texas (1992). He has passed four securities industry examinations: Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law Examination), which he obtained on December 13, 2007; Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination), which he obtained on January 16, 1997; Series 7 (General Securities Representative Examination), which he obtained on May 22, 1997; and Series 22 (Direct Participation Programs Representative Examination), which he obtained on October 1, 1992. He is currently not registered with any state or firm.

According to his BrokerCheck report, he has received one customer complaint and one regulatory sanction.

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Mark DegnerPublic records provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on February 20, 2017 indicate that Oregon-based Ameriprise Financial Services broker/adviser Mark Degner has been sanctioned by FINRA in connection to alleged rule violations. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Mr. Degner (CRD# 2364726).

Mark Degner has spent 24 years in the securities industry and has been registered with Ameriprise Financial Services in Medford, Oregon since March 2017. Previous registrations include LPL Financial in Medford, Oregon (1999-2017); Merrill Lynch in New York, New York (1995-1999); Smith Barney in New York, New York (1993-1995); and Lehman Brothers in New York, New York (1993). He has passed five securities industry examinations: Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law Examination), which he obtained on April 25, 2003; Series 65 (Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination), which he obtained on July 9, 1993; Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination), which he obtained on July 9, 1993; Series 7 (General Securities Representative Examination), which he obtained on July 7, 1993; and Series 24 (General Securities Principal Examination), which he obtained on June 1, 1999. He is a registered broker and investment adviser with 26 US states and territories: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

According to his BrokerCheck report, he has received one FINRA sanction.

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Charles KenahanPublicly available records provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on February 20, 2018 indicate that Massachusetts-based Merrill Lynch broker/adviser Charles Kenahan has received a pending customer dispute. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Mr. Kenahan (CRD# 1351974).

Charles Kenahan has spent 32 years in the securities industry and has been registered with Merrill Lynch in Boston, Massachusetts since 2007. Previous registrations include Morgan Stanley & Company in Boston, Massachusetts (2007); Morgan Stanley DW in Boston, Massachusetts (1994-2007); Smith Barney in New York, New York (1989-1994); Bear Stearns & Company in New York, New York (1986-1989); and Thomson McKinnon Securities (1985-1986). He has passed three securities industry examinations: Series 65 (Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination), which he obtained on September 24, 2007; Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination), which he obtained on May 7, 1985; and Series 7 (General Securities Representative Examination), which he obtained on April 20, 1985. He is a registered broker and investment adviser with 19 US states and territories: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont. His self-regulatory organization (SRO) registrations include: BOX Options Exchange LLC, Bats BZX Exchange, Bats EDGX Exchange, C2 Options Exchange, the Chicago Stock Exchange, FINRA, MIAX PEARL LLC, NYSE American LLC, Nasdaq BX, Nasdaq MRX, the Nasdaq Stock Market, and the New York Stock Exchange.

According to his BrokerCheck report, he has received one pending customer complaint.

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Byron PiroPublicly available records published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on February 20, 2018 indicate that Washington and California-based Wells Fargo Clearing Services broker/adviser Byron Piro is involved in a pending customer dispute. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Mr. Piro (CRD# 1110745).

Byron Piro has spent 34 years in the securities industry and has been registered with Wells Fargo Clearing Services in Bellevue, Washington and Indian Wells, California since 2007. Previous registrations include Citigroup Global Markets in Bellevue, Washington (1987-2007); Shearson Lehman Brothers (1986-1987); and Foster & Marshall (1983-1986). He has passed four securities industry examinations: Series 65 (Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination), which he obtained on March 11, 1993; Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination), which he obtained on March 28, 1983; Series 3 (National Commodity Futures Examination), which he obtained on April 18, 1983; and Series 7 (General Securities Representative Examination), which he obtained on March 19, 1983. He is a registered broker and investment adviser with 14 US states and territories: Alaska, Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. He is registered with five self-regulatory organizations (SROs): FINRA, NYSE American LLC, Nasdaq PHLX LLC, the Nasdaq Stock Market, and the New York Stock Exchange.

According to his BrokerCheck report, he has received one pending customer complaint and one denied customer complaint.

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CL King & Associates

Publicly available records published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on February 16, 2017 indicate that New York-based broker-dealer firm CL King & Associates has been sanctioned by FINRA in connection to alleged rule violations. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding C.L. King & Associates (CRD# 6183).

According to the firm’s BrokerCheck report, FINRA found that from January 1, 2014 until November 1, 2014, the firm failed to enforce procedures related to the “distribution of research between the Firms’s research and its trading and sales personnel,” and additionally that it failed to properly supervise the process by which research reports were distributed by the firm to its customers, contravening NASD Rule 3010 as well as FINRA Rules 5280(b) and 2010. Rule 5280 mandates the establishment, maintenance and enforcement of policies and protocols “reasonably designed to restrict the flow of information between research department and trading personnel” such that trading personnel do not use non-public advance knowledge to benefit the firm or anyone else. NASD Rule 3010, meanwhile, requires the establishment, maintenance and enforcement of supervisory systems reasonably designed to ensure compliance with relevant securities laws and rules.

According to FINRA’s findings, CL King employed roughly five analysts during the relevant period who together “covered approximately 80 subject companies in the restaurant, industrial, auto, consumer finance, and specialty retail sectors,” and though it had procedures in place to restrict information from flowing between those analysts and its trading personnel, “it did not enforce those procedures,” according to FINRA’s findings. The firm’s research department allegedly “routinely sent finalized copies of research reports to sales and trading personnel” before the firm had disseminated the research through its online platform. And though its written supervisory procedures required that research be “distributed to all accounts and other recipients” simultaneously, it allegedly failed to enforce this rule. FINRA’s findings state that the firm’s analysts “routinely” distributed finalized research reports, which had not been disseminated through the online platform, to firm trading and sales personnel, who then emailed these reports to certain firm customers, “chosen based on their determinations about which… were likely to be interested in receiving” them.

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Stifel Nicolaus & CompanyPublic records published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on February 15, 2017 indicate that Missouri-based broker-dealer Stifel Nicolaus & Company has been sanctioned by FINRA in connection to alleged rule violations. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in speaking to investors who have complaints regarding Stifel Nicolaus & Company (CRD# 739).

According to the firm’s BrokerCheck report, FINRA sanctioned the firm in connection to findings that in 18 occasions between April and June 2014, the firm “accepted and held 12 customer orders in over-the-counter (OTC) securities, traded for its own account at prices that would have satisfied the customer orders,” and subsequently failed to enter or to immediately enter the clients’ orders “up to the size and at the same price at which it traded for its own account or at a better price.”

FINRA’s findings state that the firm asserted its “no-knowledge exception” in connection to 16 of the 18 instances, and that its internal controls failed to meet certain FINRA requirements because traders at one of the firm’s desks were able to view outstanding client orders that were accepted and held by another desk. FINRA also stated that during Q2 and Q4 2014, and during Q1 2015, Stifel Nicolaus & Company’s supervisory system failed to provide for supervision that was reasonably designed to comply with relevant laws and regulations in connection to findings that the firm had no procedures preventing its trading desks that were separated by information barriers “from obtaining knowledge regarding orders or trading activity at other desks.” The firm’s written supervisory procedures allegedly did not include a review that ensured the firm’s information barriers operated appropriately and that permissions employees had to firm systems were granted appropriately. The firm also allegedly failed to capture any of the aforementioned instances of trading ahead in its trading exception report, a report that FINRA’s findings stated was flawed and unreliable.

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Berthel Fisher & CompanyPublic records provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on February 15, 2017 indicate that Iowa-based broker-dealer Berthel Fisher & Company has been sanctioned by FINRA in connection to alleged rule violations. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in speaking to investors who have complaints regarding Berthel Fisher & Company (CRD# 13609).

According to the firm’s BrokerCheck report, Berthel Fisher & Company was named respondent in a FINRA complaint alleging that one of its registered representatives created more than $421,000 in concessions for himself and the firm, at his customers’ expense, when he recommended an executed a series of unsuitable short-term trades involving unit investment trust products. FINRA’s findings state that the firm is liable for the registered representative’s unsuitable recommendations, which were allegedly inconsistent with the design of the products and which incurred significant sales charges for the customers, “most of which came back to the firm and the representative in the form of dealer concessions.” FINRA’s findings noted that unit investment trusts are not designed for active trading, so his recommendations were excessive and unsuitable for the clients. FINRA also stated that the representative “routinely structured the UIT purchases he recommended to the customers… to prevent the customers from qualifying for sales charge discounts” that would have resulted in smaller dealer concessions for him and the firm.

The findings state that the Berthel Fisher had inadequate supervisory procedures regarding UIT trading, and both allowed the trading to occur and profited from it. The firm allegedly failed to ensure that customers received sales charge discounts to which they were entitled on relevant purposes, and failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system reasonably designed to prevent short term, possibly excessive trading of mutual funds. The firm allegedly instead relied on its representatives and its clearing firm to ensure that customers received sales charge discounts for eligible UIT and mutual fund purchases. According to FINRA, the firm conducted no review to determine whether discounts were correctly applied, consequently allowing the representative’s “breakpoint manipulation scheme to go unchecked,” and failed to detect that “more than 2,700 of its customers’ UIT purchases did not receive applicable… discounts.” All things considered, according to FINRA, Berthel Fisher & Company’s customers paid approximately $667,000 in excessive sales charges. In connection to the foregoing allegations, the firm was censured, ordered to pay a fine of $225,000, and ordered to pay disgorgement and restitution exceeding $300,000.