Broker Investigation: Salvatore Gioe’s Sales Practices

shutterstock_95643673According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Salvatore Gioe (Gioe) has been the subject of at least 11 customer complaints, one judgment and lien of over $197,000, and one regulatory action over the course of his career. Customers have filed complaints against Gioe alleging a litany of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trades, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentations and false statements, churning, margin fraud, among other claims. Many of the claims involve recommendations in penny stocks and other speculative securities.

Gioe was also suspended by the state of Arkansas for one year concerning allegation that in 2013, Gioe contacted an Arkansas resident through a cold call solicitation and recommended the purchase of Uni-Pixel, Inc. However, unfortunately for Gioe the cold caller turned out to be a securities examiner with the state of Arkansas. The examiner then sat and listed as Gioe allegedly told the examiner that he had information suggesting the price of Uni-Pixel would rise from its current price of $15.65 to about $25. The examiner asked Gioe if Uni-Pixel stock was a sure thing and Gioe allegedly responded saying that he did. However, according to Arkansas Uni-Pixel was a distressed company and this information was never disclosed to the examiner on the call.

An examination of Gioe’s employment history reveals that Gioe 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 Gioe’s 14 year career he has worked at 13 different firms.

Since 2008 Gioe has been registered with First Midwest Securities, Inc., John Thomas Financial, Aegis Capital Corp., Charles Vista LLC, Legend Securities, Inc., PHX Financial, Inc., and since January 2015, Avenir Financial Group.

Many of these brokerage firms have been the subject of regulatory action. In particular John Thomas Financial was expelled from the industry on charges similar to those made by Arkansas against Gioe. John Thomas Financial was run by Anastasios “Tommy” Belesis who recently agreed to be banned from the securities industry when the SEC accused him of defrauding investors in two hedge funds. In addition, John Thomas faced allegations of penny-stock fraud by FINRA after the firm reaped more than $100 million in commissions over its six-year history before it closed in July. According to news sources trainees at the firm earned as little as $300 a week to pitch stocks with memorized scripts.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. The number of complaints made by investors against Gioe is relatively large by industry standards. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Brokers must disclose different types of events, not necessarily all of which are customer complaints. These disclosures can include IRS tax liens, judgments, and even criminal matters.

Investors who have suffered losses may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are experienced in representing investors in cases of unsuitable investments and churning. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.

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