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shutterstock_157018310-300x200Advisor Richard Pittman (Pittman), currently employed by Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) has been subject to at least three customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints mostly concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In October 2018 a customer complained that Pittman violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor made unsuitable investment starting in 2008 among other allegations associated non-traded REITs and other DPPs causing $300,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

In August 2018 a customer complained that Pittman violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor made unsuitable investment starting in 2008 among other allegations associated non-traded REITs and other DPPs causing $736,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

DDPs such as non-traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments virtually never profit investors.  These products are almost always unsuitable for investors because of their high fee and cost structure.  Brokers sell these products are paid additional commission in order to hype these inferior quality investments providing a perverse incentives to create an artificial market for products that no honest advisor would sell.

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shutterstock_94127350-300x205According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Debra Bourne (Bourne) has been subject to at least five customer complaints during her career.  Bourne is formerly employed by First Standard Financial Company LLC (First Standard Financial) and National Securities Corporation (National Securities).  The majority of the customer complaints against Bourne concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning.

In April 2019 a customer complained that Bourne violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor engaged in unsuitable and excessive trading causing $2,000,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

In March 2019 a customer complained that Bourne violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor engaged in unsuitable trading, excessive trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence among other claims alleged. The claim seeks $300,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In February 2019 a customer complained that Bourne violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor engaged in unsuitable and unauthorized trading causing $668,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_20354398-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Winfield Capital Partners, LP (Winfield Capital) and its principals Richard Hartnett (Hartnett) and Taryn Hartnett.  If you have suffered investment losses with Winfield Capital Partners our firm would be interested in speaking with you.  According to a BrokerCheck report, through April 2016 Hartnett was a broker with Morgan Stanley out of the firm’s West Palm Beach, Florida office location.  Hartnett has been subject to at least eight customer complaints and one regulatory action during the course of his career.

According to the complaints it appears that Hartnett was indebted to Morgan Stanley in the amount $1,288,872 at or aroud the time he left the firm.  In December 2018 Morgan Stanely was able to obtain an arbitration award for this amount against Hartnett which Hartnett may be still liable for.  Thereafter, FINRA suspended Hartnett for failing to comply with the award.  Prior to leaving Morgan Stanely Hartnett was subject to a number of customer complaints alleging excessive trading that generated large fees and commissions for Hartnett at the client’s expense.

Winfield Capital Partners began soliciting investors in or around 2016 after filing a Regulation D Private Placement offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  According to Winfield Capital Partners’ filings the fund sought to raise approximately $55 million in investor funds.

Winfield Capital Partners’ does not disclose the customer complaints against Hartnett or the award Morgan Stanely obtained against him.  Instead, the website merely discloses that Hartnett seeks to continue trading investor funds through Winfield Capital Partners.

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shutterstock_20354401-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Mariemont Capital Partners, LP (Mariemont Capital Partners) and its principals William “Bill” Kielczewski (Kielczewski).  If you have suffered investment losses with Mariemont Capital Partners our firm would be interested in speaking with you.  According to a BrokerCheck report, through May 2017 Kielczewski was a broker with The Huntington Investment Company (Huntington Investment) out of the firm’s Toledo, Ohio office location.  During this time Kielczewski is alleged to have sold $10 million in investments in Mariemont Capital Partners without disclosing this fact to Huntington Investment.

In May 2019 FINRA filed a complaint alleging that Kielczewski falsely and repeatedly represented to his member firm that he was merely a passive investor in Mariemont Capital Partners when, in fact, he was actively involved with the fund, promoting it to potential investors. Instead, FINRA found that Kielczewski helped to facilitate customer investments in the fund by assisting in the completion of wire transfers in order to fund their investments, reviewed and made revisions to the fund’s pitch book and quarterly portfolio reports, and occasionally suggested to a customer certain securities to purchase for the fund.  When FINRA reviewed Kielczewski’s tax returns they showed that Kielczewski identified himself as a general partner of the investment manager of the fund and he declared ordinary business income losses and non-passive ordinary income. FINRA found that Kielczewski participated in multiple private securities transactions through which four firm customers invested over $10 million in the hedge fund without providing prior written notice to his firm.

Mariemont Capital Partners SEC private placement filing in 2014 states that the total offering amount was $250,000,000 of which $53,400,000 had been already sold.  According to the fund’s website Kevin Taylor is the founder and Chief Investment Officer of Mariemont Capital and has 17 years of fixed income trading experience to identify value within the non-agency residential mortgage backed securities market.

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shutterstock_156562427-300x200Our firm represents multiple clients who have been recommended GPB Capital Holdings (GPB Capital) related investments. GPB invests in a variety of businesses but primarily in auto dealerships and waste management businesses.  However, over the past year controversy has embroiled GPB Capital in a saga including multiple regulatory investigations and even an FBI referral which has left investors clueless to the fate of their investments.

Recently, GPB Capital released its own internal analysis and valuation of its funds without providing any evidence to support its findings.  The results were not good for investors.  As reported by InvestmentNews, the two largest funds offered GPB Holdings II and GPB Automotive Portfolio have declines of 25.4% and 39%.  However, some of the other funds, like Armada Waste, fared much worse declining to only 32% of their original value.  Again these valuations are provided by GPB Capital and only after a year of accounting mishaps.

As a background, financial advisers sold $1.5 billion of these high-risk private placements offered by GPB Capital Holdings. More than a year ago GPB Capital was supposed to file registration forms with the SEC for two of its largest funds to make certain accounting and financial disclosures required under the securities laws.  However the company did not meet its deadline back in April 2018 and now over a year later has no firm date when annual reports for the two funds will be filed and the public has no clue what those values will look like.

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dreamstime_s_24782834-258x300The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP represents a group of 23 claimants that have been awarded $3 million by a FINRA arbitration panel after 18 days of hearing and litigation that stretched over three years.  At hearing the evidence showed that Spire Securities, LLC (Spire Securities) and the firm’s principal officers including its CEO David Blisk (Blisk) and CCO Suzanne McKeown (McKeown) failed to supervise their registered representative Patrick Churchville (Churchville).

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the firm’s failure to supervise Blisk continues to defend his conduct instead of instituting necessary reforms to his practice.  In addition, Blisk has made several false statements of fact to the media in his continuing attempts to exonerate himself and his firm.

Blisk told AdvisorHub “’We think the award is outrageous and inappropriate,’ said Blisk, noting that the majority arbitrators appeared to ignore the firm’s claims that the Ponzi scheme began after Churchville left Spire in 2011. “We can’t supervise after somebody leaves us, and we don’t have to be fraud investigators.”

False on all counts.  First the only thing that is outrageous is that Blisk and Spire Securities could not produce a single opening account form, subscription agreement, or account statement for any of the 23 claimants who invested over $10 million in Churchville’s fraud on Spire Securities watch.  Claimants repeatedly asked Respondents to provide any evidence that the firm monitored Churchville’s activities for supervision without response.  Blisk had no evidence that Claimants investments, which were overconcentrated in private equity funds, was suitable.  Further, Respondents did not even know what Churchville’s funds were invested in and claimed that brokerage firms can blindly approve products that they have no understanding of.

Finally, Blisk falsely claims that Churchville did not commit fraud on Spire Securities watch.  Claimants proved that Churchville directed and ordered the theft of over $900,000 from one of the Claimants over Spire Securities’ email servers.  In addition, Claimants introduced numerous emails that showed $750,000 had been stolen from the private equity funds while Churchville fraudulently told investors the same investment was producing fantastic returns.  Claimants also showed that Chuchville stole over $200,000 in investor funds to pay administrative expenses that had been overdue for over a year after the service provider questioned whether Churchville was going out of business.  Finally, Claimants produced evidence that Churchville’s auditor had concerns over the private equity fund’s valuation and could not find evidence to back up Churchville’s claimed returns.

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shutterstock_135103109-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Steven Woods (Woods) has been subject to at least two customer complaints during his career.  Woods is currently employed by Worden Capital Management LLC (Worden Capital) and was formerly registered with Laidlaw & Company (UK) Ltd. (Laidlaw).  The majority of the customer complaints against Woods concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning.

In November 2018 a customer complained that Woods violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor engaged in unauthorized trading, misrepresentation, and unsuitability in 2016 causing $41,607 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

In May 2018 a customer complained that Woods violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor engaged in churning, unauthorized trading, and unsuitability from 2015 through 2017 causing $157,588 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_59949436-300x286The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are pleased to announce that a group of 23 claimants have been awarded $3 million by a FINRA arbitration panel after 18 days of hearing and litigation that stretched over three years.  The case involved important investor protections concerning broker private securities transactions and outside business activities that firms must supervise and has been picked up by news outlets.

At hearing the evidence showed that Spire Securities, LLC (Spire Securities) and the firm’s principal officers including its CEO David Blisk (Blisk) and CCO Suzanne McKeown (McKeown) failed to supervise their registered representative Patrick Churchville (Churchville).  Due to the firm’s non-existent supervision Churchville was able to unsuitably invest his clients in his own private equity funds and misappropriate client funds.  Chuchville was later barred from the securities industry and in March of 2017 the United States District Court of Rhode Island sentenced Churchville to 84 months in federal prison for his crimes.

Churchville conducted his fraudulent activities through private equity funds he ran and controlled through a disclosed outside business activity and registered investment advisory practice.  Claimants showed that the private equity securities were private securities transactions that the firm was required to supervise.  Claimants proved that while Blisk and McKeown approved of Churchville’s activities but that the firm relied on Churchville to supervise himself.

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shutterstock_187083428-300x198Advisor Craig Sherrer (Sherrer), currently employed by Janney Montgomery Scott LLC (Janney Montgomery) and formerly with Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge Securities) has been subject to at least one customer complaint during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaint concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In April 2019 a customer complained that Sherrer violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor breached their fiduciary duty, negligence, and breach of contract among other allegations associated non-traded REITs causing $1,500,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

Our firm often handles cases involving annuities and direct participation products, Non-Traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipement leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These products are almost always unsuitable for investors.  In addition, the brokers who sell them are paid additional commission in order to hype inferior quality investments which provides a perverse incentives by brokers to create an artificial market for products that no honest advisor would sell.

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shutterstock_102242143-300x169According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor John Forrester (Forrester), currently employed by Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge Securities) has been subject to at least four customer complaints, one regulatory action, and has two bankruptcy disclosures during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Forrester’s customer complaints allege that Forrester recommended unsuitable securities recommendations in a variety of products including alternative investments among other allegations of misconduct in the handling of customer accounts.

In April 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Forrester violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Forrester breached his fiduciary duty and was negligent in the sale of alternative investments causing $55,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In June 2017 Forrester declared bankruptcy.  This information has been found to be material for investors to have because an advisor who cannot manage his own finances is a relevant factor for investors to consider.  In addition, a broker in financial distress may be influenced to recommend high commission products or strategies.

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