Articles Tagged with Raymond James

shutterstock_160304408-300x199Securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have been investigating Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (Raymond James) broker Thomas O’Brien (O’Brien). According to BrokerCheck records, O’Brien has been subject to three customer disputes, one of which is still pending. The majority of these disputes involve the misrepresentation and unsuitable recommendation of annuities.

Most recently, in November 2017, customers alleged that from January 2001 to present, O’Brien engaged in fraudulent representation of investments, over-concentration of investments, and failure of the firm to properly supervise O’Brien’s activities. The customer is requesting $5,000,000 in damages. This dispute is still pending.

In September 2006, a customer alleged that O’Brien falsely represented an annuity purchase to the customer by failing to disclose crucial information that the investor can’t withdraw funds from his annuity investment. The customer requested $5,000 in damages.

shutterstock_175993865-300x225According to BrokerCheck records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), broker Clifford Vatter (Vatter) has received six customer complaints. Furthermore, Vatter was terminated in July 2017 from Raymond James & Associates for allegedly engaging in unauthorized trading in one customer’s account.

In September 2016, a customer alleged Vatter made unsuitable investment recommendations, misrepresented and omitted material facts and breached his fiduciary duty. This dispute settled for $250,000.

In April 2009, a customer alleged Vatter made unauthorized withdrawals among other allegations. This dispute settled for $13,300.

shutterstock_85873471-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Leon Rehak (Rehak) has been subject to two customer complaints.  Rehak is currently registered with LPL Financial LLC (LPL Financial).  In November 2016 a customer filed a complaint alleging a number of securities law violations including that the broker made engaged in churning (excessive trading), unauthorized trading, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.  The claim alleged $600,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In October 2017, another customer filed a complaint alleging Common Law Fraud, Common Law Negligent Misrepresentation, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Negligence, Suitability, and Excessive Trading from May 2011 through September 2017.  The claim alleged $499,000 in damages and is currently pending.

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_36343294-300x225According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor James Lyons (Lyons), has been subject to five customer complaints and one employment terminations for cause.  Lyons was formerly associated with Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (Raymond James) until April 2017 when the firm terminated his employment due to customer allegation of unauthorized trading.

The most recent customer complaint filed against Lyons alleged that from December 2013 through June 2017 the broker engaged in unauthorized and unsuitable trading resulting in $800,000 in damages.  The complaint was filed in June 2017 and is currently pending.  Previously a customer in April 2016 alleged unauthorized trading resulting in $1.2 million in damages.  That claim was eventually settled for $400,000.

Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading.  Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. All brokers are under an obligation to first discuss 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 because no disclosure could be more important to an investor than to be made aware that a trade will take place.

shutterstock_183011084-199x300According to BrokerCheck records Todd Ryman (Ryman), now associated with SunTrust Investment Services, Inc. (SunTrust), has been subject to six customer complaints and one regulatory action in his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Ryman has been accused by customers of unsuitable investment advice in a variety of securities including equities, private equity investment funds, and other types of investment vehicles.  Some customers have also alleged unauthorized trading, misrepresentations and failure to follow instructions, among other claims.

One customer complaint filed in November 2016 alleged an unsuitable investment in a private equity fund resulting in $250,000 in damages.  The claim was settled for $205,193.

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_175298066-300x225Our securities fraud attorneys are investigating customer complaints and a recent regulatory action filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Paul Alexander (Alexander) formerly associated with Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (Raymond James), alleging Alexander engaged in a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and securities fraud among other claims.

In November 2016 FINRA sanctioned Alexander after he consented to the entry of findings that in contravention of his member firm’s policies and procedures, Alexander effected transactions while exercising discretion without prior written authorization in customer accounts and without notifying his brokerage firm to accept the accounts as discretionary.

The most recent customer complaint filed against Alexander was in September 2015 alleging unauthorized trading causing $244,000 in damages.  The claim was settled for $95,000.

shutterstock_185864867Our investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against financial advisor John Crook (Crook) currently registered with Prospera Financial Services, Inc. (Prospera), alleging unsuitable investments, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, churning, and unauthorized trading among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Crook has been subject to two customer complaints and one employment separation for cause.

In July 2015 Crook was discharged by Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (Raymond James) after the firm stated that it lost confidence in Crook after an internal review into a client compliant lead the firm to believe that Crook did not provide plausible explanations to the investigation.

In August 2016 a customer filed $4.8 million complaint involving Crook’s conduct and alleging violations of the securities law.  The claim is still pending.

shutterstock_173088497Records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) concerning broker Joel Burstein Jr. (Burstein) reveal ten recently filed customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Burstein involve claims of common law fraud, negligence, violation of Florida Statute 726 (fraudulent transfers), aiding and abetting, unsuitable recommendations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.  These claims allege hundreds of millions in investor losses.

The claims appear to be related to actions taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a fraud complaint against Ariel Quiros and William Stenger alleging that they and their companies made false statements and omitted key information while raising more than $350 million from investors to construct ski resort facilities and a biomedical research facility in Vermont.

Raymond James was then named in a lawsuit filed by the SEC-appointed receiver.  According to news sources, investors were told they were investing projects connected to Jay Peak Inc. ski resort operated by Mr. Quiros and Mr. Stenger.  While investor money was supposed to be used for to finance specific projects the operators, in Ponzi scheme fashion, used money from investors in later projects to fund deficits in earlier projects.

shutterstock_103681238The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Jeffrey Ingros (Ingros) (FINRA No. 2013039166001) working out of Beaver, Pennsylvania. According to the FINRA action, Ingros consented to a bar from the securities industry after he failed to provide information requested by FINRA during its investigation concerning undisclosed loans from a customer and outside business activities. The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”. In addition to the FINRA bar, Ingros has a long history of customer complaints and two employment separations for allegations of misconduct.

At this time it unclear the nature and scope of Ingros’ outside business activities and private securities transactions. However, according to Ingros’ public records his outside business activities include Fort McIntosh Group, LLC, Ingros Family, LLC, and Fort McIntosh Annuity & Insurance. Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, or insurance to clients of those side practices.

Ingros was associated with brokerage firm Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) from May 2007 until November 203. Finally, from November 2013 until February 2016 Ingros was registered with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. (Raymond James).

shutterstock_130676432The investment attorneys with Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating and representing investors who were inappropriately recommended oil and gas and commodities related investments. Investors may have potential legal remedies due to unsuitable recommendations by their broker to invest in this speculative and volatile area. Raymond James in one brokerage firm that has served as an underwriter for many master limited partnerships (MLPs) deals and whose analysts have previously given high ratings to these investments.

Jeff Saut, chief investment strategist, at Raymond James stated that his favorite MLP plays included Yorkville High Income LLP ETF (YMLP) and Yorkville High Income Infrastructure MLP ETF (YMLI). These two funds have plummeted significantly since the recommendation.

Among the individual MLPs that have suffered significant declines and now is in jeopardy of bankruptcy that was promoted by Raymond James analysts is Linn Energy (LINE) and LinnCo (LNCO). Both stocks have plummeted in value by about 98% in value over the last year. For years Raymond James analyst Keven Smith kept a “Strong Buy” rating on Linn Energy. Finally, when the stock had plummeted 50% in value with no sign of recovery Smith downgraded LinnCo to “Outperform” from “Strong Buy” and the price target to $9 from $15. Only in February 2016 when Linn Energy was on the verge of bankruptcy did Raymond James analysts drop the stock to “Underperform.”