According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Philip Sparacino (Sparacino), formerly associated with First Standard Financial Company LLC (First Standard), has been subject to at least three customer complaints, one employment termination for cause, two financial disclosures, and two regulatory matters during his career. The majority of the customer complaints against Sparacino concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning or excessive trading.
In November 2019 FINRA entered into a settlement with Sparacino where he consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to produce information and documents requested by FINRA while investigating allegations that he engaged in unauthorized, excessive, and unsuitable trading while registered through his member firm. As a result Sparacino was barred from the financial industry.
In October 2019 First Standard terminated Sparacino due to a regulatory action brought by the state of New Jersey that resulted in revoking Sparacino’s license in that state. The state of New Jersey found that Sparacino made untrue statements and omitted information and engaged in practices and a course of business which operated as a fraud or deceit and was otherwise engaged in dishonest and unethical business practices in the sale of securities resulting in a $250,000 fine and a revocation of license. The state alleged that since at least June 2019, Sparacino has engaged in a pattern of unauthorized, excessive, unsuitable, and fraudulent trading activity on behalf of customers of First Standard following the departure of many of First Standard’s agents. Sparacino had access to dozens of newly inherited customer accounts which he used as a vehicle to generate exorbitant commissions at the customers’ expense.
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.
According to newsources, a study revealed that 7.3% of financial advisors had a customer complaint on their record when records from 2005 to 2015 were examined. Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their BrokerCheck reports that include customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, terminations, and criminal cases. In addition, research has show a disturbing pattern with troublesome brokers where brokers with high numbers of customer complaints are not kicked out of the industry but instead these brokers are sifted to lower quality brokerage firms with loose hiring practices and higher rates of customer complaints. These lower quality firms may average brokers with five times as many complaints as the industry average.
Sparacino entered the securities industry in 2007. From July 2014 until October 2019 Sparacino was registered with First Standard out of the firm’s Red Bank, New Jersey office location.
At Gana Weinstein LLP, our attorneys are experienced representing investors who have suffered securities losses due to excessive trading and churning violations. Investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact us at (800) 810-4262 for consultation. Claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.