Articles Posted in AWCs

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Fifth Third Securities

Public records provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on May 10, 2018 indicate that Ohio-based brokerage and advisory firm Fifth Third Securities was recently sanctioned by FINRA in connection to alleged rule violations. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Fifth Third Securities (CRD# 628).

Founded in Ohio in 1925, Fifth Third Securities is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and registered wth 52 US states and territories. According to the firm’s BrokerCheck report, it has received 36 regulatory sanctions and 19 customer complaints that evolved into arbitration.

In May 2018 FINRA sanctioned Fifth Third Securities in connection to allegations it failed to “appropriately consider and accurately describe the costs and benefits of variable annuity (VA) exchanges,” as well as for recommending variable annuity exchanges in the absence of a reasonable basis to believe such transactions were suitable for the customers in question. Fifth Third Securities failed to ensure that its representatives obtained and evaluated “accurate information” regarding the exchanges that it recommended to its customers, according to FINRA. The firm also allegedly did not adequately train its representatives and principals in proper methods for conducting a “comparative analysis of the material features” of variable annuity products. As a result, according to FINRA, Fifth Third Securities ultimately made inaccurate statements regarding the transactions’ costs and benefits, presenting them as better for the customer than they actually were.

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Cambridge Investment ResearchPublic records published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and accessed on May 10, 2018 indicate that Iowa-based brokerage firm Cambridge Investment Research was recently sanctioned by FINRA in connection to alleged rule violations. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Cambridge Investment Research (CRD# 39543).

Founded in 1995, Cambridge Investment Research is headquartered in Fairfield, Iowa and registered with 52 US states and territories. According to the firm’s BrokerCheck report, it has received nine regulatory sanctions and two customer complaints that evolved into arbitration.

In May 2018 FINRA sanctioned the firm following allegations it failed to establish, maintain and enforce an adequately designed supervisory system in connection to redemptions of variable annuity and non-traditional exchange-traded fund products. FINRA found that in about 100 instances, firm clients redeemed variable annuity products and transferred the funds to an advisory account, and that firm personnel were involved in and additionally recommended some of these transactions despite the lack of systematic supervision or written procedures governing them. FINRA found as well that the firm did not determine which transactions were recommended by the personnel and were consequently subject to FINRA suitability rules. According to FINRA, 84 firm representatives participated in the trading of non-traditional ETF products in retail customer accounts, executing 4,773 transactions for a total of about $127 million, though the firm failed to enforce its written supervisory procedures regarding non-traditional ETF trades. For instance, per FINRA, the firm permitted representatives to execute the trades before the signed a form attesting they completed a 45 minute training session, as required by the WSPs; additionally, the firm allegedly permitted “many customers” to buy non-traditional ETFs before they had submitted a disclosure form that was required by firm rules.

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February

More than two dozen brokers and/or investment advisers were reported as suspended from association Financial Industry Regulatory Authority member firms in February 2018, according to FINRA’s list of disciplinary actions issued last month. The below individuals have signed letters of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC Letters) agreeing to FINRA’s suspensions; they have not admitted to or denied the alleged conduct. Suspensions may apply to association in a principal capacity or all capacities. Some of these sanctions may have been lifted before or since FINRA’s report was released last month. Furthermore, the fines listed below may not account for the full sums paid by the sanctioned representatives; some may have been ordered to pay restitution and/or disgorgement in addition to fines. Visit FINRA’s disciplinary action records for more information.

Name Current/Former Employers Length of Suspension Fines paid
Joseph Abbate Wells Fargo Clearing Services 20 days $5,000
Nolan Dudley Baird Jr. Stifel Nicolaus & Company 15 days $7,500
Peter Louis Pavlina Hamersley Partners 2 months $10,000
Brenton Louis Bataille Spencer Edwards 10 days $5,000
Benjamin James Herauf Edward Jones 6 months $5,000
Joseph Daniel Krueger II Robert W. Baird & Company 3 months $5,000
Joseph Alan Lavigne Spencer Edwards 30 days (all capacities) 20 days (principal capacity) $14,500
Steven Chin Quoy Spencer Edwards 10 days $7,500
Richard Albert Seefried Spencer Edwards 30 days $10,000
Eli Lazarowitz BNP Paribas Prime Brokerage 45 days $5,000
Michael Nicholas Guilfoyle Four Points Capital Partners 10 months $10,000
Jess Elliott Roberts Foresters Financial Sevices 3 months $10,000
Kenneth S. Alter Stifel Nicolaus & Company 10 days $5,000
Steven Arthur Bumbera Kovack Securities 45 days $4,000
Wayne Ivan Miiller Aeon Capital 6 months (principal capacity) $10,000
Janet Lynn Ross Accelerated Capital Group 2 years (principal capacity) $10,000
Ashley Elmo Arnsdorff BB&T Investment Services 10 days $5,000
Carol Lipner Cirrus Research 45 days $17,500
Walter Sanfrid Olsson Raymond James Financial Services 4 months $5,000
Gary Bruce Weiss Salomon Whitney Financial 30 days (principal capacity) $5,000
Lawrence John Fawcett Jr. Westpark Capital 15 days $2,500
Gary Raymond Gray Wells Fargo Clearing Services 3 months $10,000
Nicholas Victor Kayal ADP Broker-Dealer 20 days $5,000
Shannon Lynn Lewis State Farm VP Management Corporation 6 months $7,500
Roseann Palermo Chelsea Financial Services 1 month $5,000
Mircea Cristian Sauciuc Morgan Stanley 60 days $10,000
Craig Alan Sutherland Money Concepts Capital Corporation 15 days $5,000
John William Bernard Independent Financial Group 20 dyas $5,000
Jon William Stagnone Fidelity Brokerage Services 2 months $5,000

 

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FebruaryMore than a dozen brokers and/or investment advisers were reported as barred from associating with Financial Industry Regulatory Authority member firms in February 2018, per FINRA’s list of disciplinary actions issued in that month. The individuals enumerated below below have signed Letters of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC Letters) agreeing to FINRA’s sanctions; they have not admitted or denied the alleged underlying conduct. For additional information about these sanctions, visit FINRA’s Disciplinary Actions webpage.

 

 

Name Current/Former Employers
Jermaine Doral Joseph PFS Investments
Kenneth Stewart Tyrrell Cary Street Partners
Charles Henry Frieda Wells Fargo Clearing Services
Charles Bernard Lynch Jr. Wells Fargo Advisors
JoeAnn Mitchell Walker Next Financial Group
Vladimir Tingue Scottrade
Brian Michael Travers MML Investors Services
Leslie Rhodes Koonce EK Riley Securities
Zhengquan Zhang KCG Americas
Kim D. Le State Farm VP Management Corporation
Neil S. Fineman First Allied Securities
Jed Edward Tinder Western International Securities
Eddie Basora Jr. Merrimac Corporate Securities
Hank Mark Werner Legend Securities
John M. James Stifel Nicolaus & Company
Tyrone Y. Pang MML Investors Services
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January The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) list of disciplinary actions issued in January 2018 includes 19 former registered representatives who were reported as barred from affiliating with FINRA member firms. The below individuals have signed Letters of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC Letters) agreeing to FINRA’s sanctions without admitting or denying the alleged underlying activities. More information about these sanctions and individuals is available on FINRA’s Disciplinary Actions webpage.

 

 

Name Current/Former Employers
Masood Husain Azad First Allied Securities
Lisa DeAnne Casper Robert W. Baird & Company
William Haug Paterson GWN Securities
Lisa J. Lowi Janney Montgomery Scott
Victor Michel Financial West Group
Adam I. Ocner UBS Financial Services
Eric Spencer Ovesen Realty Capital Services
Christopher Michael Tenaglia Realty Capital Services
Victor M. Dandridge III Thompson Davis & Company
Jerry Lou Guttman United Planners Financial Services of America
Robert Hayes Hoffmann Thurston Springer Miller Herd & Titak
Gopi Krishna Vungarala Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments
Brian Frederick Gimelson North Nassau Advisors
Brian Lamont Royster HD Vest Investment Services
Edward Michael Zadworny MML Investors Services
Craig Edward Lewis Valic Financial Advisors
David Lee Reynolds AllState Financial Services
Demitrios Hallas PHX Financial

 

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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.

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 Summit EquitiesPublicly available records provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) on June 9, 2017 indicate that New Jersey-based brokerage and advisory firm Summit Equities was recently sanctioned by FINRA in connection to alleged rule violations. Fitapelli Kurta is interested in speaking to investors who have complaints regarding Summit Equities (CRD# 11039).

Established in New Jersey in 1982, Summit Equities is headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey and registered with 48 US states and territories. Steven Weinman is Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chief Investment Officer; Michael Bremer is Chief Operations Officer; Stanley Gregor is President; Robert Lamberti is Co-Chief Investment Officer; Miriam Lefkowitz is Chief Legal Officer; Robert Slomin is Chief Compliance Officer; Mara Stempler is Chief Financial Officer. The firm is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and FINRA.

According to the firm’s BrokerCheck report, Summit Equities was recently sanctioned by FINRA in connection to alleged rule violations.

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Jeffrey SmithPublic records published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) on September 9, 2016 indicate that former California-based Accelerated Capital Group broker Jeffrey Smith is the subject of a pending FINRA investigation. The securities and investment fraud law firm Fitapelli Kurta is interested in speaking to investors who have complaints regarding Mr. Smith (CRD# 2400590).

Jeffrey Smith has spent 22 years in the securities industry and was most recently registered with Accelerated Capital Group in Irvine, California (2010-2016). Previous registrations include Longview Financial Group in Costa Mesa, California; Western Growers Financial Services in Irvine, California; Citigroup Global Markets in New York, New York; and Prudential Securities in New York, New York. He is currently not registered with any state or firm. Continue reading →

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Hank WernerPublic records provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) on September 7, 2016 indicate that former New York-based Legend Securities broker Hank Werner has been named in a pending FINRA complaint. The securities and investment fraud law firm Fitapelli Kurta is interested in speaking to investors who have complaints regarding Mr. Werner (CRD# 1615495).

Hank Werner has spent 29 years in the securities industry and was most recently registered with Legend Securities in New York, New York (2012-2016). Previous registrations include Liberty Partners Financial Services in New York, New York; Liberty Partners Financial Services in Bakersfield, California; Brookstone Securities, which has since been expelled by FINRA, in Northport, New York; Alexander Capital in New York, New York; Empire Financial Group, which has since been expelled by FINRA, in Northport, New York; First Montauk Securities in Red Bank, New Jersey; American Investment Services, which has since been expelled by FINRA, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Robert Thomas Securities in St. Petersburg, Florida; Prudential Securities in New York, New York; Smith Barney Harris Upham in New York, New York; and Shearson Lehman Hutton. He is currently not registered with any state or firm. Continue reading →

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Daniel MillerPublic records published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) on June 28, 2016 indicate that former California-based Growth Capital Services broker Daniel Miller has been sanctioned by FINRA. The securities and investment fraud law firm Fitapelli Kurta is interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Mr. Miller (CRD# 5551362).

Daniel Miller has spent one year in the securities industry and was most recently registered with Growth Capital Services in San Francisco, California (2013-2014). He has no previous registrations and is currently not registered with any state or firm. Continue reading →