According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker John Schooler (Schooler) has been hit with at least 26 customer complaints over his career. Customers have filed complaints against Schooler alleging securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, negligence, misrepresentations, breach of fiduciary duty, violation of blue sky statutes in several states, and fraud among other claims. The claims against Schooler involve various types of securities including private placements, direct participation programs and limited partnerships which include investments like oil & gas, non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs), equipment leasing programs, and tenants-in-common (TICs). The majority these products are high commission based products that often pay broker commission of between 7-10%. As the research now shows these products are arguably always unsuitable for investors because they do not compensate investors for their substantial risks. See Controversy Over Non-Traded REITs: Should These Products Be Sold to Investors? Part II
Schooler entered the securities industry in 1993. From 1994, until July 2011, Schooler was associated with WFP Securities. From June 2011, until July 2011, Schooler became associated with JRL Capital Corporation. Finally, Since July 2011, Schooler has been associated with First Financial Equity Corporation out of the firm’s Scottdale, Arizona office location.
As a background, a Non-Traded REIT is a security that invests in different types of real estate assets such as commercial, residential, or other specialty niche real estate markets such as strip malls, hotels, storage, and other industries. There are publicly traded REITs that are bought and sold on an exchange with similar liquidity to traditional assets like stocks and bonds. However, Non-traded REITs are sold only through broker-dealers, are illiquid, have no or limited secondary market and redemption options, and can only be liquidated on terms dictated by the issuer, which may be changed at any time and without prior warning.
Investors are also often ignorant to several other facts that would warn against investing in Non-Traded REITs. First, only 85% to 90% of investor funds actually go towards investment purposes. In other words, investors have lost up to 15% of their investment to fees and costs on day one in a Non-Traded REIT. Second, often times part or almost all of the distributions that investors receive from Non-Traded REITs include a return of capital and not actual revenue generated from the properties owned by the REIT. The return of capital distributions reduces the ability of the REIT to generate income and/or increases the investment’s debt or leverage.
The number of customer complaints against Schooler is high relative to his peers. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Brokers must publicly disclose certain types of reportable events on their CRD including but not limited to customer complaints. In addition to disclosing client disputes brokers must divulge IRS tax liens, judgments, and criminal matters. However, FINRA’s records are not always complete according to a Wall Street Journal story that checked with 26 state regulators and found that at least 38,400 brokers had regulatory or financial red flags such as a personal bankruptcy that showed up in state records but not on BrokerCheck. More disturbing is the fact that 19,000 out of those 38,400 brokers had spotless BrokerCheck records.
Gana Weinstein LLP represents investors who have suffered investment losses due to broker wrongdoing, such as unsuitable investments. The majority of these claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.