Thomas Sullivan Subject to Churning Complaints

shutterstock_115937266-300x237The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Thomas Sullivan (Sullivan).  According to BrokerCheck records Sullivan has been the subject of at least six customer complaints and two terminations for cause.  The customer complaints against Sullivan allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments and churning (excessive trading) among other claims.

In May 2010 Sullivan was discharged by Hallmark Investments on allegation that Sullivan stole revenue from the brokerage firm.  The most recent customer complaint was filed in November 2016 alleging $23,616 in damages stemming from excessive trading and churning.  The claim was settled

When brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time.  Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities.  This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades.  Churning is considered a species of securities fraud.  The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions.  A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements.  Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim.  These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.

An examination of Sullivan employment history reveals that Sullivan moves from troubled firm to troubled firm.  The pattern of brokers moving in this way is sometimes called “cockroaching” within the industry.  See More Than 5,000 Stockbrokers From Expelled Firms Still Selling Securities, The Wall Street Journal, (Oct. 4, 2013).  In Sullivan’s 33 year career he has worked at least 15 different firms.

In addition, the number of customer complaints against Sullivan 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.

Sullivan entered the securities industry in 1983.  From June 2010 through May 2016, Sullivan was associated with Lampert Capital Markets Inc.  From June 2016 until December 2016, Sullivan was associated with Quint Capital Corporation.  Since December 2016 Sullivan has been associated with Westpark Capital, Inc. out of the firm’s New York, New York office location.

The investment fraud attorneys at Gana LLP represent investors who have suffered securities losses due to the mishandling of their accounts.  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.