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Articles Posted in Churning

Florida Pinnacle Investments Broker is Named in Two Pending Customer Disputes 

Paul Robert DiPietro, a broker with Pinnacle Investments in Boca Raton, has been named in at least 10 customer complaints over the 12 years. Two of these investor claims are recent and pending. 

In South Florida, our Boca Raton securities fraud attorneys at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) are speaking to current and former customers of Paul DiPietro throughout the United States who have suffered significant investment losses. 

Ex-New Hampshire Governor is Suing For Damages 

The New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation is looking into allegations brought by the state’s former governor, Craig Benson, who is accusing ex-Merrill Lynch brokers Dermod Cavanaugh and Charles Kenahan of churning his account and causing over $50M in damages that with market adjustments, he claims, is now over $100M. Benson filed a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration claim against the broker-dealer and the two men.

Merrill Lynch is a Bank of America (BAC) subsidiary. Churning is when a broker makes excessive trades in a customer’s account in order to earn commissions.

Former LifeMark Securities Broker Gets Banned By FINRA 

If you are an investor who suffered losses while Stephen Carver handled your investments and wish to file an investor claim, our broker misconduct attorneys at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) want to talk to you. 

Carver, who most recently was a LifeMark Securities broker and before that a Cetera Advisors financial representative — Cetera and LifeMark both fired him — was just barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). 

Morgan Stanley Ordered To Pay Over $300K In Fines And Restitution

Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, William Galvin, is ordering Morgan Stanley (MS) to pay a $200K fine, as well as $182K in restitution to four customers who suffered losses while working with former broker Justin E. Amaral. 

The ex-Morgan Stanley financial advisor was barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in 2015. 

Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas (“SSEK”), a law firm specializing in representing wronged investors, is looking into allegations against Financial West Group and its broker Daniel Gordon Maughan.

It is alleged that Maughan excessively traded and churned a client’s Trust Account at his member firm. A arbitration complaint has already been filed!  According to his brokercheck, Maughan has also been banned by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA).

The complaint alleges that by churning the customer’s trust account, Maughan willfully:

For alleged supervisory failures and excessive trading by one of its former brokers, Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. has been ordered to pay over $880K– $558K in restitution with interest to customers that were harmed,  as well as a $325K fine to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The broker-dealer consented to the entry of the findings but did not admit to or deny wrongdoing.

According to the SRO, from 1/2012 to 3/2017, Summit neglected to review certain automated alerts for the trading activities of its registered representatives, of which there are more than 700. Because of this, one of its brokers, was able to excessively trade in accounts belonging to 14 clients, including 533 trades on behalf of one customer. This compelled her to pay over $171K in commissions.

The broker’s excessive trading resulted in 150 alerts for this type of activity, none of which were purportedly reviewed by Summit. FINRA has since barred the former registered rep.

Jovannie Aquino, a former Windsor Street Capital broker, is now barred by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Aquino was charged by the regulator last year with allegedly churning in clients’ accounts. The Commission is accusing Aquino of engaging in acts of fraud and omissions that caused customers to lose about $881K, even as he made $935K in commissions.

The SEC, in its complaint, accused the ex-Windsor Street Capital broker of excessive trading in retail customers’ accounts. The regulator said that Aquino allegedly convinced at least seven customers to maintain trading accounts at Windsor and told them he would engage in a trading strategy that would cause them to make money. He suggested frequent, short-term trades and charging fees and commission for each transaction.

The Commission said that because of how often the trading took place, along with the fees and commissions that the clients were charged, from the start they stood to lose money rather than make a profit. This means that Aquino didn’t have reasonable grounds for thinking that his trading strategy would be suitable for the customers despite the fact that suitability for recommending an investment is a requirement. Not only that, but also, for six of the investors who were harmed, the trading levels employed were entirely unsuitable for them in light of their investment goals, financial needs, the level of risk that they could handle, and other specifics.

David Strnad, a longtime broker, has been suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for 18 months. According to his BrokerCheck record, in 2016, the daughter of a client accused Strnad of churning in her father’s account while he was a registered Morgan Stanley representative. Following the allegations, FINRA opened a probe into the matter.

The self-regulatory authority (FINRA) found that Strnad made over 270 trades involving CDs in the account of one elderly customer between 2013 and 2015. While the client had given the former Morgan Stanley broker permission to purchase the CDs, Strnad allegedly exceeded the authority granted to him when he sold the CDs before they matured and used the money made from those transactions to purchase more CDs for the client.

As a result, said FINRA, the client ended up paying nearly $4300 commissions that were not warranted. Morgan Stanley has since paid that money back to the client.

The Financial Industry Regulatory (FINRA) announced that it is barring former Aegis Capital broker James Schwartz for allegedly churning four clients’ accounts. The self-regulatory authority (SRO) contends that Schwartz, who is no longer employed in the securities industry, made 256 trades in these accounts without first getting the customers’ permission to execute the transactions. Along with other trades he made in these accounts—535 trades in total—the customers ended up collectively losing over $660K.

FINRA’s BrokerCheck record on its case against Schwartz said that he engaged in about $10M worth of unauthorized trades. Some trades were also allegedly excessive.

The SRO said that Schwartz earned commissions and gross sales credits of $277,705 from these fraudulent transactions, more than $194,000 of which was paid to the former Aegis Capital broker.

Legend Securities Ordered to Pay Client For Churning His Funds 

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel has awarded Herbert W. Voss $1.075M in his securities fraud case against Legend Securities Inc., its ex-chief compliance officer Frank Philip Fusco, and former Legend broker Danard Warthen Brown. Legend is no longer in operation and was expelled by the self-regulatory authority (SRO) in 2012.

Voss reportedly lost $375,000 while Legend was his brokerage firm. Of the more than $1M award granted to Voss, $700K is for punitive damages. His securities fraud lawyer contends that punitive damages were warranted because of how much turnover took place in Voss’s account.

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