Bill Tatro and Mary Helen Caprice Mallett Accused of Selling Unsuitable Private Placements Securities Part I

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently barred broker William (Bill) Tatro, formerly registered with First Allied Securities, Inc. (First Allied), concerning allegations that he failed to respond to two requests for information by FINRA staff in connection with an investigation into whether he violated federal securities laws or FINRA conduct rules.  According to FINRA, Tatro admitted that he received both information requests but did not provide any of the requested information and documents because he claimed that he believed the bankruptcy court had stayed all requests pending the bankruptcy’s resolution.  FINRA rejected Tatro’s bankruptcy defense and that Tatro violated FINRA Rules by failing to provide the information and documents FINRA staff requested and determined that Tatro should be permanently barred from associating with any FINRA member firm in any capacity.

FINRA initiated the investigation against Tatro after it received customer complaints and a series of Uniform Termination Notices (Forms U5) filed by Tatro’s former broker-dealer, First Allied. According to FINRA, the amended termination notices disclosed numerous customer complaints alleging fraud and other sales practice violations of more than 80 individuals who might be victims of Tatro’s alleged misconduct.  Tatro total career related losses have been estimated to be anywhere from $10 million to $100 million and may potentially involve as many as 1,000 clients.  On July 30, 2012, Tatro filed a petition for bankruptcy with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York.

Tatro began his securities career in 1975 and worked at six different broker-dealers before becoming associated with First Allied in November 2003. After Tatro left First Allied he operated Biltmore Wealth Advisors, LLC, an investment advisory firm in Phoenix, Arizona.  Tatro also operated Eagle Steward Wealth Management, an investment advisory firm.  Tatro’s wife, colleague, and business partner, Mary Helen Caprice Mallett (Mallett) has also advised Tatro clients and has been accused of recommending the same or similar speculative investments that characterizes Tatro’s practice.

Tatro’s BrokerCheck reveals that over 200 hundred customer have been involved in complaints against Tatro involving securities misconduct.  According to the complaints, Tatro exclusively sold high risk, illiquid, high commission generating products in a “one size fits all” model to clients.  These products include Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), variable annuities, leveraged inverse ETFs (non-traditional ETFs), and private placements,  The private placement allegations include leasing equipment funds and other direct participation programs, including potentially advanced equities private placements.

In one complaint, 186 clients settled claims against Tatro for $3,694,820.  In another arbitration hearing an arbitrator found, “There was no evidence that Mr. Tatro properly investigated leveraged inverse funds.  In fact, it is highly unlikely that Mr. Tatro could have done so, for such research would have demonstrated that holding leveraged inverse funds for a lengthy period of time dramatically increased risk of the claimant.”  The case, Mid-Lakes Management Corp. vs. Eagle Steward Wealth Management LLC, resulted in an award of $530,449 in damages to the claimant.

The attorneys at Gana LLP are experienced in representing investors concerning claims involving the recommendation of private placements and other inappropriate securities.  Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.