Broker Ralph Fetrow Discharged Over Allegations of Outside Business Activities

shutterstock_103476707Our firm is investigating claims made by Castleview Partners, LLC (Castleview Partners) when the firm terminated broker Ralph Fetrow (Fetrow).  According to the firm, Fetrow was discharged in September 2016 after allegation were made that Fetrow violated firm policies and was under investigation for possible violations of firm policies and procedures prohibiting trading away and outside business activities.

According to Fetrow’s brokercheck records Fetrow disclosed outside business activities including Painted Hill Farms, Financial Planning Association, Shippensburg University, RAMS 88 Inc, and Ralph Fetrow Consulting.  At this time it is unclear whether the allegations stem from one of these disclosed entities or another business practice.  The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  Often times brokers who engage in this practice use outside businesses in order to market their securities.

Fetrow entered the securities industry in 1999.  From October 2008 through December 2015 Fetrow was associated with Invest Financial Corporation.  Since February 2016, Fetrow has been registered with Kovack Securities Inc. out of the firm’s Lemoyne, Pennsylvania office location.

In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm.  However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion.  In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public.  Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system.  Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

In cases of selling away the investor is unaware that the advisor’s investments are improper.  In many of these cases the investor will not learn that the broker’s activities were wrongful until after the investment scheme is publicized, the broker is fired or charged by law enforcement, or stops returning client calls altogether.

The investment fraud attorneys at Gana LLP have represented hundreds of investors in securities related disputes including in cases of selling away and brokerage firms failure to supervise their representatives.  Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.