Massachusetts Broker Accused of Defrauding Customers of $3M
James Kenneth Couture, an ex-LPL Financial registered representative, was arrested in July 2021 after turning down a plea deal related to criminal charges that accused him of stealing $3M from investors. Following his decision not to accept the deal, a grand jury added additional criminal counts to the charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, as well as an investment advisor fraud charge. Couture has pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges and was released without bond.
At the time, Couture was an LPL Financial broker until that broker-dealer fired him in June 2020. He was also a Massachusetts-based investment advisor who ran the Private Wealth Management Group and shell company Legacy Financial Group.
Our broker misconduct lawyers are speaking with former customers of ex-LPL broker James Couture who suffered serious investment losses that may have been caused by his allegedly fraudulent and negligent actions. Contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm at investorlawyers.com) today at (800) 259-9010.
Massachusetts Registered Investment Advisor Also Faces SEC Fraud Charges
Prosecutors contend that between 2009 and 2019, Couture allegedly moved millions of dollars from the accounts of clients to pay the bogus returns of other clients, as well as purchase a client list from another registered investment advisor. Had he accepted the plea deal, Couture would have had to forfeit about $2.9M in investor funds, pay $1.9M in restitution, and serve 66 to 91 months behind bars.
Couture is also facing parallel civil charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The regulator contends that he got clients to sell portions of the securities holdings so he could transfer that money to an entity that he controlled. He is accused of falsely claiming that the proceeds from those securities’ sales would be reinvested for them, which is how he was able to get these clients’ authorization. The SEC said that whenever a client wanted to take out money, Couture would allegedly use other advisory clients’ money to cover those funds.
According to his BrokerCheck record, James Couture worked 18 years in the industry. Other firms where he used to be a registered broker include Lincoln Financial Securities, New England Securities, and Morgan Stanley DW. He has five disclosures listed, including the SEC civil case.
Other disclosures on Couture’s BrokerCheck include:
- June 2021: A pending $385K customer claim that appears to be related to the criminal case and the SEC charges involving Couture.
- October 2020: A bar by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) related to his firing by LPL Financial.
- October 2020: An investor dispute alleging misrepresentations that was denied.
- June 2020: LPL Financials firing of Couture for allegedly tampering with customer accounts, commingling customer funds, and other claims.
Brokerage Firms and Their Duty to Supervise
Broker-dealers have a duty to supervise their certified financial advisors and their activities. When negligent supervision or the failure to detect red flags allows for the kind of broker misconduct that leads to investor losses, financial firms can be held liable for customers’ losses.
The best way to pursue damages is to file your own FINRA arbitration claim. This is not the type of securities case you want to be involved in without your own broker misconduct lawyers representing you and protecting your rights.
Call SSEK Law Firm at (800) 259-9010 today and ask for your free, no obligation case consultation.