Articles Tagged with Merrill Lynch

shutterstock_164634200-300x200Securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating previously registered broker Guistino Destefano (Destefano). According to BrokerCheck Records, Destefano has been subject to two terminations from employment and one regulatory action in which the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned Destefano for various violations of the securities laws. In addition,  Destefano has been subject to 6 customer disputes concerning unauthorized trades and unsuitable investments, one of which is still pending.

In May 2014, Destefano resigned from Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) due to customer allegations of unauthorized trading and recommending securities to customers that weren’t approved by the firm. Subsequently, in March 2016, FINRA found that between July 2013 and May 2014, Destefano had executed unauthorized trades in 4 non-discretionary customer accounts. In addition, Destefano also had marked over 100 order tickets incorrectly, labeling them “unsolicited” when they were in fact solicited trades. For executing unauthorized trades, Destefano was found to be in violation of unauthorized NASD Conduct Rule 2510(b) and FINRA Rule 2010. Destefano consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings and FINRA suspended Destefano for 3 months and imposed a fine of $10,000.

In addition, Destefano has been subject to multiple customer complaints. In September 2017, a customer alleged that Destefano exercised discretion in non-discretionary customer accounts, over-concentrated investments, and placed customers in unsuitable investments. The customer has requested $830,000 in damages. This dispute is currently still pending.

shutterstock_188631644-300x225The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) broker Patrick McNamara (McNamara). According to BrokerCheck records, McNamara has been subject to seven customer complaints. The majority of these complaints concern unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation of material facts.

In August 2017, a customer alleged that from September 2011 to July 2017, McNamara misrepresented the nature of investments to customers. The case was settled at $16,063.98.

In August 2015, a customer alleged that from July 2014 to January 2015, McNamara provided unsuitable investment recommendations. The case was settled at $8,438.00.

shutterstock_143094109-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor James Lowther (Lowther), employed by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch), has been subject to two customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Lowther has been accused by a customers of unsuitable investment advice concerning various investment products including energy stocks that likely include master limited partnerships (MLPs).  The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to report on investor related losses and potential legal remedies due to recommendations to investor in oil and gas and commodities related investments.

The most recent claim was filed in August 2017 and alleges unauthorized trading, unsuitable investment recommendations, and misrepresentation and omission of material facts from November 2010 to July 2017.  The customer claimed $300,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

In July 2016 another customer alleged that Lowther engaged in unauthorized trading, unsuitable investment recommendations, failure to follow instructions, and misrepresentation and omission of material facts from January 2013 to July 2016.  The customer claims $1,000,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

shutterstock_178801082-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor James Merkel (Merkel), in August 2017, was terminated by his employer Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) after the firm alleged that Merkel violated firm policy relating to selling away.

Prior to the firm’s termination, in June 2016 a customer filed a complaint alleging unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation and omission of material facts involving options.  The customer alleged $1,000,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

At this time it is unclear the extent and scope of Merkel’s securities violations and outside business activites.  Merkel’s CRD lists that he operates an outside business activity concerning real property.  Merkel also lists an entity called Merkel’s Lfan LLC that is a business that produces adironack chairs and other items.  At this time it is unknown the exact nature of the firm’s allegations concerning private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.

shutterstock_27597505-300x200According to BrokerCheck records Robert Yahney (Yahney), associated with Merrill Lynch Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch), has been subject to five customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Yahney has been accused by customers of unsuitable investment advice and investment strategy and appears to include options recommendations.

The most recent complaint filed in May 2017 alleges $1,000,000 in damages stemming from allegations of unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation from February 2012 to June 2014. The claim is currently pending.  Another claim was filed by a customer in March 2017 alleging unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation from August 2012 to July 2014 causing $300,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

shutterstock_62862913-259x300The investment fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are examining multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against financial advisor Gregory Pease (Pease). According to BrokerCheck, Pease has a multitude of disclosures concerning: churning, excessive trading, unauthorized trading, unsuitability, and breach of fiduciary duty.

The most recent customer complaint filed against Pease was filed in November 2016. The complaint alleged that during the period between 1998 and 2015, Pease made unsuitable recommendations, misrepresentation, and omission of material facts regarding mutual funds. The alleged damages are unspecified and the case is still pending.

Another customer complaint against Pease was filed in March 2015 and alleged that Pease misrepresented the client’s financial objectives. According the customer, the amount of trades and fees that occurred in the accounts did not properly align with the client’s desires. The alleged damages were worth $13,266.81 and the case was later settled for $10,297.88.

shutterstock_186180719-300x216The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the allegations made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against barred broker Clay Hoffman. In June 2016, Hoffman was suspended by FINRA for his alleged failure to respond to FINRA’s request for information. Hoffman was later barred in November 2016 for his alleged failure to respond to multiple requests for documents and information related to an investigation.

Prior to the most recent suspension, Hoffman’s license as a broker was revoked and suspended, according to BrokerCheck. During May 2016, Hoffman alleged failed to pay a $5,000 fine for a previous case, which resulted in the revocation of his license. Additionally, Hoffman’s broker license was suspended during February 2016 due to the findings that allege that Hoffman engaged unauthorized business practices. Allegedly, Hoffman executed discretionary transactions in a customer’s account without any written authorization from the customer or firm.

In April 2015, a customer complaint was filed against Hoffman for alleged misrepresentation, unsuitability, and unauthorized trading. During his employment at SunTrust Investment and Summit Brokerage Services, Hoffman allegedly caused a loss for his client due to the misrepresentation of Mutual Funds. The alleged damages were $234,697.00 and the case settled at $90,000.

shutterstock_94632238-300x214The experienced securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Andrew Bruce Elsoffer (Elsoffer). According to Elsoffer’s FINRA BrokerCheck records, there are several disclosures on his record pertaining to securities fraud, misrepresentation, unsuitability, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence amongst other allegations.

Elsoffer entered the securities industry in 1994 and was only registered with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. until November 2011. He is currently employed at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., Inc. since November 2011. He was previously employed at:

• Bank of America (December 2009 – October 2011)

shutterstock_132704474-300x200Gana Weinstein LLP’s investment fraud attorneys are investigating multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) again broker Todd Douglas Ryman (Ryman). According to Ryman’s FINRA BrokerCheck records, there are several disclosures on his record pertaining to unauthorized trading, unsuitable trading, misrepresentation of material facts, amongst other allegations.

Ryman entered the securities industry in 1995 and currently employed at Suntrust Investment Services, Inc. since February 2017. He was previously employed at:

• Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (September 2016 – February 2017)

shutterstock_184149845-300x246The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are following the case against broker Jeffrey Kluge (Kluge) who pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud in the state of Minnesota. A plead agreement was filed with the U.S. District Court in Minnesota on March 29, 2017. Kluge entered the securities industry in 1991 and remained with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. for the entirety of his career. Kluge started a scheme to create fraudulent Merrill Lynch account statements to falsely secure collateral for multi-million lines of credit. Kluge was able to carry out this scheme by creating a fake domain name, www.mymerrillonline.com, and fake email address, pledgecontrol@mymerrillonline.com, to send the falsified account statements to Platinum Bank. A false Merrill Lynch identity was used as a cover for the email address. Kluge ran this fraudulent scheme for 15 years, starting in 2001 to November 2016.

In 2001, Kluge received a line of credit for $150,000 from Alliance Bank by putting up municipal bond funds as collateral. These bond funds were substantiated by falsified account statements that hid the fact that the same bonds were already pledged to Merrill Lynch loans previously obtained by Kluge. The outstanding balance of Alliance Bank line of credit was at $6 million in November 2016.

Utilizing the same scheme for Alliance Bank, Kluge was able to secure a $1 million line of credit from Platinum Bank in Minnesota. He procured this line of credit by putting up the same assets used for Merrill Lynch and Alliance Bank.  The Platinum Bank line of credit balance was at $2.7 million as of November 2016.