Articles Tagged with First Midwest Securities

shutterstock_24531604-200x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker William Brunner (Brunner) has been subject to five customer complaints, one bankruptcy, two regulatory actions, and one termination for cause.  Brunner was formerly registered with Investment Planners, Inc. (Investment Planners) until May 2017.  Many of the customer complaints against Brunner concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning, unauthorized trading, and unsuitable investments.

In April 2018 FINRA barred Brunner from the industry stating that Brunner consented to the sanction and declined to appear for on-the-record testimony requested by FINRA in connection with an investigation into excessive trading and use of discretion without written authorization in customers’ accounts.  In May 2017 Investment Planners terminated Brunner claiming that allegations were made by a client concerning unauthorized trading.

In June 2017 a customer filed a complaint claiming that Brunner engaged in negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, unauthorized trading, and unsuitable investments claiming $1,000,000 in damages.  The claim was settled.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor David Barber (Barber), formerly employed by Madison Avenue Securities, LLC (Madison Avenue) has been subject to five customer complaints, two regulatory actions, and one employment termination for cause.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of a Barber customer complaints allege that Barber made unsuitable recommendations in equity securities.

In March 2018, FINRA sanctioned Barber and barred him from the industry.  FINRA alleged that Barber failed to produce information and documents request by FINRA during the course of an ongoing examination to determine whether he engaged in unauthorized trading in the accounts of customers of his member firm, exercised discretion in customer accounts without written authorization, or otherwise acted in violation of FINRA rules.

In addition, in September 2011 Raymond James and Associates, Inc. (Raymond James) discharged Barber claiming that he was alleged to misappropriate funds from a client, engaged in outside business activities and selling away, and that the firm lost confidence in the broker.

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shutterstock_113632177The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker John Prinzivalli (Prinzivalli).  According to BrokerCheck records Prinzivalli has been the subject of at least two customer complaints, three financial disclosures, and one judgement or lien.  The customer complaints against Prinzivalli allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, and churning (excessive trading) among other claims.

One complaint filed in October 2014 alleged $130,000 in damages due to unsuitable recommendations, high pressure sales tactics, and churning.  The complaint is currently pending.  Another complaint was filed in November 2010 alleging churning and unsuitable investments claiming $250,000 in damages.  The complaint 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.

shutterstock_189100745According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Ahmad “Kevin” Wares (Wares) has been the subject of at least seven customer complaints one employment separation, and one judgment/lien over the course of his career. Customers have filed complaints against Wares alleging a litany of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trades, churning, negligence, failure to follow instructions, and misrepresentations among other claims.

An examination of Wares’s employment history reveals that Wares 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 Wares’ 15 year career he has worked at 7 different firms of which four have been expelled from FINRA. Since 2008 Wares has been registered with New Castle Financial Services LLC, First Midwest Securities, Inc., and EKN Financial Services Inc. Since September 2012, Wares has been associated with Laidlaw & Company (UK) LTD.

Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading. Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. The broker must first discuss all trades with the investor before executing them under NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b).   These rules explicitly prohibit brokers from making discretionary trades in a customers’ non-discretionary accounts. The SEC has also found that unauthorized trading to be fraudulent nature.

shutterstock_128655458According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Patrick Teutonico (Teutonico) has been the subject of at least nine customer complaints and one regulatory action over the course of his career. Customers have filed complaints against Persaud alleging a litany of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trades, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, negligent supervision, excessive mark ups, and fraud among other claims. In addition to customer complaints, Teutonico was also subject to a regulatory action by FINRA where the regulator found that Teutonico effected unauthorized trades and was fined and suspended.

An examination of Teutonico’s employment history reveals that Teutonico 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 Teutonico’s 17 year career he has worked at 10 different firms. Since 2008 Teutonico has been registered with First Midwest Securities, Inc., A&F Financial Securities, Inc. QA3 Financial Corp., Obsidian Financial Group, LLC. Since December 2012, Teutonico has been associated with Network 1 Financial Securities Inc. located in Lynbrook, New York.

Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading. Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. The broker must first discuss all trades with the investor before executing them under NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b).   These rules explicitly prohibit brokers from making discretionary trades in a customers’ non-discretionary accounts. The SEC has also found that unauthorized trading to be fraudulent nature.

shutterstock_93851422According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Nigel James (James) has been the subject of at least five customer complaints and one financial matter. Customers have filed complaints against James alleging a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, misrepresentations and false statements, churning (excessive trading), breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, unauthorized trading, among other claims. Most of these claims involve recommendations in equities.

James entered the securities industry in 2002. From October 2005 until October 2008, James was registered with J.P. Turner & Company, L.L.C. From there, James as associated with First Midwest Securities, Inc. until February 2013.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. In order to make suitable recommendations the broker must have a reasonable basis for recommending the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation of the investments properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. In addition, the broker must also understand the customer’s specific investment objectives to determine whether or not the specific product or security being recommended is appropriate for the customer based upon their needs.

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.

shutterstock_71403175The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a string of customer complaints against broker Shawn Burns (Burns) currently registered Salomon Whitney LLC (Salomon). According to The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) BrokerCheck system, the customer complaints primarily allege unauthorized trading, failure to execute, suitability, misrepresentation, fraud, churning, and breach of fiduciary duty.

Burns has been in the industry since 1999. In only 15 years Burns has been employed by 10 different firms. After leaving Westrock Advisors, Inc. in May 2007, Burns became registered with J.P Turner & Company, L.L.C. until June 2009. From June 2009, until July 2011, Burns was registered with First Midwest Securities, Inc. Thereafter, Burns was registered with Salomon until August 2012. Then Burns became associated with Cape Securities Inc. until April 2014 before again going back to Salomon where he is currently registered.

Burns has had 12 customer complaints filed against him during his career, one termination, and five judgments or liens. These statistics are troubling because so many customer complaints are rare. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. These disclosures do not necessarily have to include customer complaints but can include IRS tax liens, judgments, and even criminal matters. The number of brokers with multiple customer complaints is far smaller.

shutterstock_163404920The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned broker Raymond Clark (Clark) and imposed findings: (1) suspending the broker for three months and fined $6,000 for using his personal email account to communicate with a customer; (2) suspended for four months and fined $10,000 for making false statements to his firm; and (3) suspended for two months and fined $4,000 for failing to report a customer complaint to his firm. FINRA imposed the suspensions to run consecutively and suspended Clark for an additional three months in all supervisory capacities and ordered him to requalify by examination as a securities representative and securities principal.

According to Clark’s BrokerCheck, the broker was registered with Paulson Investment Company, Inc. from December 2008 through May 2009. From June 2007 through January 2009, Clark was registered with J.P. Turner & Company, L.L.C. From May 2009 until August 2010, Clark was registered with First Midwest Securities, Inc. Finally, from August 2010, through August 2014, Clark was registered with Dynasty Capital Partners, Inc. (Dynasty Capital). Clark’s background check also reveals two regulatory complaints and at least nine customer complaints. Only a relatively small percentage of brokers have any complaints on their records and fewer still have as many as Clark.

The complaints against Clark include claims of unauthorized trading, inappropriate use of margin, securities fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, unsuitable investments, churning, and misrepresentations.

Maurice Joseph Chelliah (Chelliah) was recently barred from the financial industry by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) over allegations that Chelliah converted $90,000 from two World Group Securities, Inc. (WGS) clients and made unsuitable recommendations to five WGS customers.  FINRA alleged that Chelliah recommended that these customers refinance their primary residences and use the proceeds to purchase securities and insurance policies that they did not need and that were beyond the customers’ ability to afford.  FINRA found that as a result of Chelliah’s recommendations some of the customers lost their securities, their life insurance policies, and their residences when they were unable to keep their mortgages current.

FINRA alleged that Chelliah violated NASD Rule 2110 and FINRA Rule 2010 by converting customer funds.  These rules provide that a member, “in the conduct of his business, shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.”  FINRA found that two of Chelliah’s customers were 80 and 75 years-old respectively and were unsophisticated investors.  Chelliah recommended that the customers liquidate their mutual fund shares.  Following the liquidation, $90,000 in proceeds was transferred to Chelliah’s three outside businesses.  The customers had provided these funds to Chelliah in order for him to pay monthly bills and expenses on their behalf but instead Chelliah used these funds for his own personal benefit.

FINRA also alleged that Chelliah made unsuitable transactions in at least five customer accounts. NASD Rule 2310 provides that “in recommending to a customer the purchase, sale or exchange of any security, a member shall have reasonable grounds for believing that the recommendation is suitable for such customer upon the basis of the facts, if any, disclosed by such customer as to his other security holdings and as to his financial situation and needs…”