Articles Posted in Industry Bars

SSEK Investigating Stephen Klinger, ex-Wells Fargo Advisor

Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas (“SSEK”), a law firm specializing in representing wronged investors, is looking into allegations against ex-broker Stephen Klinger for trading options for a client in his own account.

He then proceeded to lose the client’s money.  Klinger was fired earlier this year by Wells Fargo. The client then sued Klinger and Wells Fargo. According to the broker’s CRD, his official record, Klinger then settled the lawsuit without telling Wells Fargo.

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.”

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.

After failing to cooperate in a probe into allegations of securities violations, George Merhoff, a former ex-Cetera Financial Group adviser, has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). He was fired by the brokerage firm in April for allegedly issuing an undisclosed payment to a firm customer.

With over 21 years working in the brokerage industry, Merhoff was a registered Cetera broker for seven years. Before that, he was registered with Pacific West Securities, where he worked for 13 years, and at AAG Securities for less than a year.

Merhoff’s BrokerCheck record shows 27 customer disputes filed since December 2015 that have either been settled or are pending. Allegations include the following:

Former Cetera Broker Allegedly Engaged in Outside Business Activities

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that it is barring Nina Jessee, a former Cetera Advisors broker. The bar comes after Jessee failed to cooperate with the self-regulatory organization (SRO), which was investigating complaints about her related to alternative investments, including allegations that she had engaged in business activities that were not authorized outside of the brokerage firm.

With more than 30 years in the industry, Jessee has also been a registered broker at five other broker-dealers, including Investors Capital Corp., Financial Securities Network, NAP Financial Corporation, Marketing One Securities, and Mutual of Omaha Fund Management Company.

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.

James Anderson, an ex-Ameritas Investment Corp. adviser, is now barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) after he failed to participate in a probe into allegations that he had taken part in selling away. Ameritas fired Anderson earlier this year after the brokerage firm’s own investigation found that he had engaged in selling promissory notes and indexed annuities that it had not approved.

Anderson was at Ameritas for 14 years. In April, a claimant filed a FINRA arbitration case accusing of making unsuitable recommendations by pushing promissory notes. The allegations are related to the selling away charges against him. The claimant is asking for $400K in damages.

Selling Away

Former Securities America Broker Is Accused of Unsuitable and Unauthorized Trades

Michael Bastardi, an ex-Securities America broker, is barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) after he failed to give the regulator the information it requested for an investigation into his alleged conduct. Bastardi was a registered representative with Securities America from 2014 to 2016.

In 2018, the brokerage firm submitted a Form U5 that disclosed that Bastardi had been named in a customer complaint accusing him of unauthorized trading, unsuitable margin trading, forgery, and fraud while at Securities America and previous to that when he was a registered Dalton Strategic Investment Services broker. His alleged misconduct is said to have resulted in about $250K in damages. The investor fraud claim is still pending.

On May 17, 2019, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) issued a permanent bar against former Pennsylvania LPL Financial representative Philip John Nalesnik.

According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck records, Nalesnik was in the securities industry for roughly 17 years, from 2002 until he was kicked out in 2019.  Nalesnik previously worked at IDS Life Insurance Company, American Express Financial Advisors, CCO Investment Advisors and, for almost a decade, LPL Financial, LLC.

Prior to receiving his FINRA bar, Nalesnik had a very questionable regulatory history.  Nalesnik’s CRD shows that he has had at least five customer complaints, one criminal complaint, at least two tax liens and a personal bankruptcy, much of which happened while Nalesnik was a registered representative of LPL Financial.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) has permanently barred fired Merrill Lynch broker Bhenoy (Ben) Dembla. According to InvestmentNews, The former broker was let go from the financial firm in 2016 for “falsifying documents” related to mutual fund sales.

Dembla, who worked for Merrill the entire time he was a broker from 2001 to 2016, is accused of submitting fake sell orders to get around the firm ’s electronic order system protections. The protections should have stopped the submission of Class B share purchase orders once these had exceeded the accumulation limit.

According to FINRA, Dembla would submit the bogus sell orders, which the system would accept, and then he would cancel the orders. All of this made it possible for certain customers to go over Class B share thresholds with their purchases.

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