Articles Posted in Financial Firms

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. 

Cetera Advisors Fraud Case Rises To $21M

Two months after suing Cetera Advisors for more than $10M for allegedly defrauding retail clients, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has amended its complaint, adding another Cetera Financial Group firm as a defendant. The regulator is now seeking $21M.

According to the amended complaint, Cetera Advisors Network, also a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor, made over $10M in undisclosed compensation that retail advisory clients paid for in fees, mark-ups, administrative fees, and revenue sharing. 

SSEK Investigating Centaurus Financial Brokers 

Our brokerage firm misconduct lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP (SSEK Law Firm) are representing investors who were sold structured certificates of deposits (CDs) by Centaurus Financial brokers Cindy Chiellini and Ricky Mantei. 

Both work out of Lexington, South Carolina and are the subject of numerous complaints by customers, many of whom are based in Colorado and were sold these CDs. Now, the Colorado Division of Securities is considering pulling Centaurus’s license in that state over its alleged failure to properly supervise Mantei and Chiellini. 

SSEK Investigating The Ex-Morgan Stanley Broker, Ami Forte

Earlier this year, our investor lawyers reported that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) had filed a lawsuit against former Morgan Stanley broker, Ami Forte. She allegedly made unauthorized trades in the now-deceased Home Shopping Network co-founder, Roy Speer’s, account while he was afflicted with dementia. 

The self-regulatory authority has now announced that it is barring Forte. Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) are currently investigating complaints and concerns by former customers of Ami Forte who are suspecting that their losses may be due to fraud. 

Oppenheimer Broker Involved In Customer Dispute Cases  

Cesar Hurtado, who has been with Oppenheimer since 2003, is currently under scrutiny in the wake of recent customer disputes and is being investigated by Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas.

One of the claims alleging fraud, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent misrepresentation was settled for $285K.  Another customer dispute case, which is still pending, makes similar claims and is seeking $100K in damages. 

Four Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. (SF) clients were awarded $1.5M in compensatory damages in their Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration case against the brokerage firm. According to AdvisorHub, the claimants are accusing the broker-dealer of not properly supervising Stifel Nicolaus broker Kenneth D. Blumberg, who they contend invested up to 80% of their portfolio in biotech stocks.

The claimants also said that Blumberg mismarked trades and encouraged them to add more positions even as they were losing money. They are alleging the following:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty

Cleveland, Ohio

Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas (“SSEK”), a law firm specializing in representing wronged investors, is looking at allegations by FINRA into former Linsco Private Ledger (LPL) financial advisor, Jeffery Vasiloff (“Vasiloff”).  Vasiloff worked at LPL in 2018 and was not employed very long.  Vasiloff was fired, according to FINRA,  due to allegations of utilizing discretion without obtaining the proper written authority.  As a result, he was also suspended from acting as a financial advisor by FINRA.  He previously worked at Invest Financial Corporation and appears to be based out of Vermilion, Ohio.  After serving his suspension, Vasiloff became employed by JW Cole Financial.

Vasiloff never admitted nor denied FINRA’s finding.  However, he consented to the sanctions imposed and accepted the findings that he acted improperly by refusing to obtain prior consent, in writing, from the client before acting on that client’s behalf.  LPL simply reported to FINRA that Vasiloff was discharged for “use of discretion without prior written authorization.”

Misconduct Accusations Against Ex-Morgan Stanley Brokers

Broker Misconduct Case #1: John Tillotson

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has suspended ex-Morgan Stanley broker, John Tillotson, for 15 days and ordered him to pay a $5K fine after finding that he impersonated five clients during phone calls to a mutual fund company. This was so he could move their retirement money to the firm. 

Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas (“SSEK”), a law firm specializing in representing wronged investors, is looking into allegations made by FINRA in a recent AWC filing against Booth.   In February 2018 LPL acquired INVEST.  Booth had been working at INVEST since 2005 and has been a broker since 1988.  In the AWC it is alleged that Booth received client assets with the promise of investing said assets on behalf of the clients.  Booth instead used client assets for his own personal use and never actually invested the assets.

According to Booth’s official record or CRD, he has 25 disclosures or claims against him.  This is an unusually high number, and generally indicates poor supervision.  Almost all of the complaints are on the violative conduct listed above.  According to the FINRA CRD report, most of his former clients complain of a “Ponzi scheme using multiple shell companies.”

LPL fired Booth, and according to LPL this was done after Booth admitted to misappropriation of multiple client’s assets for his own use. It should be noted that FINRA has also barred Booth from the industry and can no longer act as a stockbroker or advisor under FINRA.

Jason Nelson, an ex-LPL Financial broker (LPLA), is now barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The bar comes after Nelson refused to participate in the self-regulatory organization’s (SRO) probe into his sales activities.

LPL fired Nelson early last year after finding that he misrepresented customer financial information related to annuity sales. Without denying or admitting to FINRA’s findings, Nelson consented to the entry of findings and the bar. He worked nearly 14 years as a formerly registered broker. Previous to working with LPL Financial, Nelson was an Edward Jones broker.

It was just last month that FINRA permanently barred ex-LPL Financial broker Philip John Nalesnik, whom the broker-dealer also fired last year.

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