Articles Posted in Featured Investigations

office_suit_corportate_237605_lThe securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Barry D. Abrams.  Mr. Abrams is currently employed and registered with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., and works at the broker-dealer’s Marlton, New Jersey office, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck records maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Per his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Abrams was previously employed and registered by Securities Service Network, Inc. from 2001 to 2013 and was discharged from that firm for “exercise[ing] discretion in a client account without written authorization from the client and without firm approval.”  Prior to his employment and dismissal from Securities Service Network, Inc., Mr. Abrams was employed and registered with Morgan Stanley from 1995 to 2001, according to BrokerCheck records.

In 2015, Mr. Abrams was fined and suspended from association with any FINRA member broker-dealer for 15 business days by FINRA, after submitting a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2013039371801 (AWC).  According to the AWC, Mr. Abrams violated NASD Conduct Rule 2510(b) (Discretionary Accounts) and FINRA Rule 2010 (Standards of Commercial Honor and Principles of Trade) by placing discretionary transactions in a customer’s account without first obtaining prior written authorization from the customer and acceptance by the firm for such discretionary trading.

Malecki Law’s team of investment attorneys are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding National Securities Corporation broker Christopher Jones. Mr. Jones was previously licensed through Citigroup and other firms, per industry records.

According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Jones was recently the subject of two customer disputes.

Mr. Jones’ FINRA records indicate that in 20110, a client alleged “suitability, material misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, omissions, and negligence.” This case was reportedly settled for $24,500.

The investment fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Oppenheimer & Co. broker Joseph Iovino. According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Iovino has been the subject of seven reportable disclosure events, including customer complaints.

Per FINRA records, Mr. Iovino has been involved in two regulatory events, four customer complaints and an employment separation after allegations.

According to his BrokerCheck, in 1992, Mr. Iovino was terminated by Prudential Securities for violating firm policy.

The investment fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Raymond James Financial Services broker Joseph Amalfitano of Malvern, PA. According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Amalfitano moved to Raymond James after stints at Citigroup and Merrill Lynch.

Mr. Amalfitano was recently the subject of two customer complaints since 2008, per FINRA records.

According to his BrokerCheck, in 2012, Mr. Amalfitano was alleged to have “maintained an unsuitable concentration of Bank of America stock” in customers’ accounts. Overconcentration can be dangerous since it has the potential to create higher risk and volatility of an account when compared to a more balanced, diversified portfolio. FINRA records indicate this case was settled.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against former stockbroker Winston Wade Turner.  Mr. Turner had been employed and registered with Pruco Securities, LLC, a broker-dealer, from July 2013 to August 2015, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Per his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Turner was previously employed by MetLife Securities Inc. from December 2011 to July 2013.  Mr. Turner was discharged on August 3, 2015 for making an unsuitable variable annuity recommendation, providing inaccurate information to the company regarding the transaction, and for making payments to a client dissatisfied with the performance of their annuity, according to BrokerCheck records.

Mr. Turner was subsequently barred from associating with any FINRA securities firm according to a Default Decision entered in the FINRA Office of Hearing Officers on July 8, 2016, in Disciplinary Proceeding No. 2013038398401.  According to the Decision Mr. Turner violated: (i) FINRA Rules 4511 and 2010 by providing false information and engaging in deceptive acts in connection with recommendations of variable annuities; (ii) Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, Rule 10b-5 and FINRA Rules 2020 and 2010  by fraudulently misrepresenting and omitting material facts to his customers; and (iii) FINRA Rules 8210 and 2010 by failing to provide testimony and information in FINRA’s proceeding.

Malecki Law’s team of investment attorneys are interested in speaking with those who invested in AR Global REITs. Industry analysts and consultants believe that investors in a number of AR Global-sponsored real estate investment trusts (REITs) are in danger of having their distributions cut, per InvestmentNews.

Specifically, investors in American Realty Capital Global Trust II, American Realty Capital New York City REIT, American Finance Trust, American Realty Capital Hospitality Trust, American Realty Capital Retail Centers of America, Healthcare Trust, and Realty Finance Trust may be at risk, according to the report.

The problem is said to stem from the MFFO (modified funds from operations a/k/a cash flow) at seven of AR Global’s REITs. The MFFO of these seven funds reportedly failed to match or exceed their distributions. In simple terms, this would mean that the funds failed to take in as much as they were distributing. Such a situation has the potential to mean big trouble for investors including distribution cuts and rapid decline in asset value – i.e., less income and large losses to the principal.

Malecki Law’s team of investment attorneys are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Wisconsin-based Sterne Agee Financial Advisor Chad Karl.

According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Karl is currently the subject of a pending customer dispute. The allegations include unsuitable investment recommendations, including an investment into real estate, per FINRA. According to the disclosures on Mr. Karl’s BrokerCheck, the customer is requesting $100,000 in damages.

Mr. Karl’s FINRA records indicate that he has also been the subject of two prior customer disputes since 2010. In 2014, a client alleged that “the non publicly traded REIT sold to her was unsuitable,” per FINRA. This case was reportedly settled for $50,000. The other customer complaint, filed in 2010, alleged $120,000 in damages for failure to “fully explain tax laws regarding the sale of the client’s stock portfolio,” according to BrokerCheck, and was ultimately withdrawn.

Morgan Stanley broker Armando Fernandez has been suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for 20 business days, according to publicly available FINRA records.  Per a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent filed with FINRA, Mr. Fernandez was accused of exercising discretion in a customer account without prior written acceptance of the account as discretionary from his member firm.  FINRA records indicate that Mr. Fernandez was also fined $7,500.

Generally, brokers are prohibited from placing trades in a customer account without speaking to the customer first, unless an account is a discretionary account.  When discretion is given by the customer to the broker, it is typically documented in a signed agreement.  When there is not such a signed agreement, and a broker executes transactions on a discretionary basis anyway, violations of FINRA Rules likely have taken place.

Customers who have been the victim of brokers improperly exercising discretion in their accounts (or violating other FINRA Rules) may be entitled to recover their losses in an action against the firm and/or broker responsible.

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We are investigating customer complaints against broker David E. Mickey, who is currently barred from acting as a broker or otherwise associating with firms that sell securities to the public, as per FINRA’s BrokerCheck. According to FINRA BrokerCheck, in 2015 FINRA imposed a sanction on Mr. Mickey as he failed to appear for testimony in response to a request pertaining to an investigation about his trading activities. As per BrokerCheck, Mickey’s firm filed a Form U5 with FINRA terminating his registration, disclosing that he sold securities during a blackout period and while in possession of material, non-public information.

According to FINRA BrokerCheck, Mickey had similar allegations made against him in 2014, while he was at LPL Financial, where he allegedly violated the code of conduct by selling Niagara Securities during a blackout period and while in possession of certain non-public material. Per BrokerCheck, there was another customer dispute is 2002, where the customer alleged that Mickey did not act promptly on wire instructions thereby, keeping him from realizing market gains.

If you or anyone you know have experienced similar issues or are concerned about unauthorized trading or failure to execute by a broker, you should let an experienced Securities team assess the situation. You need an experienced team that is well versed with FINRA laws and protecting investors from unscrupulous brokers on your side. At Malecki Law, we champion the cause of investor protection and education.

exclamation-point-icon-1444386The investment fraud attorneys at Malecki Law announce the firm’s investigation into potential securities law claims against broker-dealers relating to the improper sale of natural gas and oil linked structured notes and similar products to investors.

Malecki Law is interested in hearing from investors who purchased structured notes issued by well-known financial institutions, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE: BAC), Citigroup (NYSE: C), Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), UBS (NYSE: UBS), and Barclays (NYSE: BCS).

These investment products, often bearing such names as “Phoenix,” “Plus,” “Enhanced Return,” “Principal Protected,” “Bullish,” “Leveraged Upside” or “Accelerated Return,” were reportedly marketed to investors as a way to make significant returns and income from the rising price of oil.  In addition to promises of increased gains, investments like these are frequently also sold to investors with assurances that their potential losses would be limited and their initial investment would be protected.