Before US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales joined the military, he had a career as a stock trader. Now, media sources, who have been digging into his background to find out more about the man accused of massacring 16 villagers in Afghanistan, are reporting that the 38-year-old’s stockbroker career ended after he was accused of defrauding an elderly couple and bilking them of their life savings.
According to The Washington Post, prior to joining the military, Bales and MPI, the financial firm that he worked for, were ordered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to pay a $1.4 million securities settlement (compensation and punitive damages), for allegedly engaging in unauthorized trading, fraud, unsuitable investments, churning, and breach of fiduciary duty. Bales allegedly sold valuable stocks off while favoring penny stocks in order to up his commission.
The claimant, 74-year-old Gary Liebschner, said that he was never paid a cent of the arbitration award. In his securities complaint against Bales, which he filed in 2000, Liebschner said that $825,000 in AT & T stock lost all value because of trades that this former stock trader had made for him. ABC News says that when Liebschner was asked if he thought of Bales was a con man, the elderly senior replied in the affirmative.
“A question one may ask is, what do the actions of this man as a soldier have in common with his actions as a former stockbroker?” asked Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP Founder and Stockbroker Fraud Lawyer William Shepherd. “In either case, it is apparent that he was and is a very disturbed person. Having represented thousands of investors to recover investment losses I have found that most of the harm is caused by either the large percentage of ruthless financial firms or the small percentage of disturbed brokers. Most financial advisors are honest and care very much about their clients, but a few of them range from gambling addicts to complete sociopaths.”
US officials have said that early on the morning of March 11, Bales walked to two villages and started shooting families in their homes. He initially reported shooting a number of Afghan men outside a US combat post and reports of the staff sergeant’s initial account imply that he may have asserted that his actions had a legitimate military goal even though he entered the villages without authorization. What he didn’t mention, however, was that he had also killed over a dozen women and children. Bales’ defense lawyer, who says that his client doesn’t remember the shootings, plans to mount an insanity defense.
Afghan Murder Suspect Bales ‘Took My Life Savings,’ Says Retiree, ABC News, March 19, 2012
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ arrest as suspect in civilian shootings renews questions about mission in Afghanistan: A Closer Look, Cleveland.com, March 18, 2012
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