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shutterstock_132704474-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have been investigating The GMS Group, LLC (GMS Group) broker Cormac Maughan (Maughan). According to BrokerCheck records, Maughan has been subject to 2 customer disputes involving unsuitable recommendations of municipal bonds, one of which is still pending. Maughan has also been subject to two regulatory actions in which New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) sanctioned Maughan for various violations of the securities laws, including unauthorized trading and unsuitable investments.

In November 2017, a customer alleged that from January 2009 through to November 2015, Maughan recommended Puerto Rico municipal bonds which were unsuitable to the customer’s investment needs and that Maughan breached his fiduciary duty to the client. This dispute is still pending.

In addition, in May 2004, the NYSE found that Maughan engaged in unauthorized trading by exercising discretionary power with oral but not with written authorization from customer or member firm. The NYSE also found that Maughan also engaged in unsuitable investments that were inconsistent and excessive for his customer in terms of the  customer’s age, investment objectives, and financial circumstances. This violation of NYSE rules 408(a) and 3529c) resulted in a one month suspension for Maughan. Continue Reading

shutterstock_188631644-300x225The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) broker Patrick McNamara (McNamara). According to BrokerCheck records, McNamara has been subject to seven customer complaints. The majority of these complaints concern unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation of material facts.

In August 2017, a customer alleged that from September 2011 to July 2017, McNamara misrepresented the nature of investments to customers. The case was settled at $16,063.98.

In August 2015, a customer alleged that from July 2014 to January 2015, McNamara provided unsuitable investment recommendations. The case was settled at $8,438.00.

In September 2013, a customer alleged that from 2007 to 2011, McNamara was providing unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresenting material facts of investments. The case was settled at $60,000. Continue Reading

shutterstock_61142644-300x225The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against Summit Brokerage Services (Summit Brokerage) broker Michael Mathias (Mathias). According to BrokerCheck records, Mathias has been subject to twenty customer complaints, two of which are still pending. The majority of the complaints concern the unsuitable recommendation of variable annuities.

Most recently, in August 2017, a customer alleged that Mathias recommended unsuitable investments to customers, requesting $433,687 in damages. This dispute is currently still pending.

In 2001, a customer alleged that Mathias did not reimburse client for deferred sales charges. The customer further alleges that the annuity investment recommended was not suitable for him.The client is requesting $10,000 in damages. This dispute is currently still pending. Continue Reading

shutterstock_20354398-300x200Current Arete Wealth Management, LLC (Arete Wealth) broker Alvery Bartlett (Bartlett) has been subject to three customer complaints.  According to a BrokerCheck report many of the complaints concern alternative investments, private placements, and direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and oil and gas programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In March 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that the investments purchased between 2003 and 2011 were unsuitable and were misrepresented to him.  The client also alleged that the firm failed to conduct adequate due diligence on the investments and failed to supervise the representative.  The claim is currently pending and alleges damages of $6,637,918.

Our firm often handles cases involving direct participation products, Non-Traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment 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_15963142-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Anthony Salerno (Salerno), employed by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise), has been subject to three customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Salerno has been accused by a customers of unsuitable investment advice concerning various investment products including energy stocks including master limited partnerships (MLPs).  The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to report on investor related losses and potential legal remedies due to recommendations to investor in oil and gas and commodities related investments.

The most recent claim was filed in March 2018 and alleges unsuitable recommendations of municipal bonds in the period of 2013 to December 2017. The customer claimed $300,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

Our firm handles claims and is also investigating securities claims against brokerage firms over sales practices related to the recommendations of oil & gas and commodities products such as exchange traded notes (ETNs), structured notes, private placements, master limited partnerships (MLPs), leveraged ETFs, mutual funds, and individual stocks.

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shutterstock_141873055-300x268The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Brad Lawing (Lawing).  According to BrokerCheck records, Lawing has been subject to 11 customer complaints. In addition, Lawing has been subject to a regulatory matter in which FINRA sanctioned Lawing for various violations of the securities laws including unsuitable recommendations.

In November 2017, FINRA found that Lawing recommended shares of a business development company (BDC) to three customers that did not satisfy suitability standards for two customers and resulted in over-concentration for the other customer. FINRA found that Lawing did not use reasonable diligence to ascertain customers’ financial situation, risk tolerance, and other factors affecting for suitability consideration. FINRA also alleged that in one case Lawing recommended an investment without speaking with the customer. Additionally, Lawing disclosed non public information for ten of his customers whose previous registered representative was statutorily disqualified from participating in the brokerage industry. In November 2017, Lawing was suspended for 5 months and fined $10,000. Continue Reading

shutterstock_182054030-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against First Allied Securities, Inc. (First Allied) broker Mark Chamberlain (Chamberlain).  According to BrokerCheck records, Chamberlain has been subject to seven customer complaints and one regulatory action.  The majority of the complaints concern alternative investments and annuities.

Most recently, in May 2015, a customer alleged that Chamberlain engaged in unsuitable investments requesting $29,700 in damages.

In May 2012, a customer alleged that from October 2009 to May 2011, Chamberlain engaged in breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, and unauthorized transactions. This dispute settled for $13,000.

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shutterstock_191231699-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Jack Griffith (Griffith), currently employed by Janney Montgomery Scott LLC (Janney Scott) has been subject to five customer complaints and one lien.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of a Griffith’s customer complaints allege that Griffith made unsuitable recommendations in equity securities.

In January 2018 a customer made allegations unsuitable recommendations for the client’s account, overconcentration, and breached his fiduciary duty. The claim alleged $200,000 in damages and is currently pending.

Also in January 2018 another customer made allegations of unsuitable recommendations for the client’s account.  The claim alleged $150,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In February 2017 a customer made allegations that Griffith recommended unsuitable securities and caused an over-concentration in energy investments. The claim alleged $4,265,639 in damages and is currently pending.

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Accorshutterstock_114775264-300x200ding to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Oscar Francis (Francis), formerly associated with MML Investor Services, LLC (MML) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was terminated for cause by MML concerning allegations that he engaged in private securities transactions.  MML stated that Francis’ was “terminated in connection with an investigation into an undisclosed outside business activity, potential selling away and an unauthorized non-securities life insurance transaction.”  In addition, Francis has been subject to three customer complaints concerning unapproved investments.  Further, in April 2017, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into Francis’ investment activities.

At this time it is unclear the extent and nature of the outside business activities or private securities transactions that occurred.  The allegations concerning private securities transactions is a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws.

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shutterstock_174922268-300x215According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Brian Travers (Travers), operating under the d/b/a Travers and Associates, Inc., in December 2017, was barred from the financial industry by FINRA concerning allegations that he engaged in private securities transactions.  According to FINRA Travers consented to the sanction and bar due to the fact that he refused to appear and provide FINRA with testimony in connection with their investigation into potential undisclosed outside business activities and private securities transactions.  At this time it is unclear the extent and nature of the outside business activities or private securities transactions that occurred.

Travers employer, MML Investors Services, LLC (MML) discharged Travers in March 2017 alleging that Travers engaged in undisclosed outside business activities.  The only activity listed on Travers’ public records is his insurance business. FINRA’s allegations concern private securities transactions– a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – is a serious violation of the securities laws.

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