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Baltimore Securities & Estate Planning Law Blog

Financial Planner Jailed for Ponzi Scheme

Financial planner and vice president of Capital Financial Planning, LLC, Frederick Monroe, was arrested for allegedly swindling clients out of $1.26 million. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman believes that Monroe had been operating a Ponzi scheme since 2008. Monroe had clients issue checks to him, personally, which he then deposited into his own personal checking account. Monroe is facing multiple felony charges including scheme to defraud, grand larceny, money laundering, and securities fraud. Monroe faces 25 years in prison and was sent to jail after failing to comply with his bail requirements.

95-Day Arbitration Yields $16.6 Million for Investors

The longest running arbitration case in the past two decades has finally been ruled on after five years. After a 95-day hearing, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel awarded the Claimants $16.6 million based upon evidence that BNP Paribas Securities Corp. unsuitably concentrated their savings in leveraged option securities. Claimants alleged that the company's own policies prohibited the sale of leveraged options securities to U.S. customers. The $16.6 million included restitution, damages, and attorneys' fees.

Two Fraud Cases Cost One Broker and His Firm $1 million

Two fraud cases have resulted in a $1 million fine and a permanent bar for the principal of Sage Advisory Group, Benjamin Lee Grant. According to the SEC, when Grant first opened Sage Advisory Group he falsely informed clients that utilizing the services of his new firm would result in lower costs and fees than those charged by his prior firm. Additionally, Mr. Grant failed to disclose that his father, an advisor serving clients with Sage Advisory Group, was permanently bared from the industry in 1988.

$6 Million Ponzi Scheme may Cost Former Broker 20 Years in Prison

A former A.G. Edwards, Merrill Lynch, and Raymond James affiliated broker is facing up to twenty years in prison after allegedly running a $6 million Ponzi scheme. Sunil Sharma allegedly raised $8.36 million from investors over a six year period for a day-trading strategy involving high risk option securities. Unfortunately for Sharma, according to federal prosecutors, the strategy did not pay off and he acquired new investors to repay the old investors. Sharma pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentence in August. Sharma faces twenty years in prison.

Former Compliance Officer Faces up to 20 years in Prison

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged William Quigley, a former chief compliance officer of Westbury, New York based brokerage firm Trident Partners, Ltd, with fraud. According to the SEC, Quigley solicited foreign investors to invest in well-know companies along with a few start-ups and then used the money for his own personal use. Over the course of a decade, Quigley allegedly siphoned $800,000 of investors' money into his personal accounts by sending investors false account statements. Quigley was indicted on charges of wire fraud and money laundering. He faces up to twenty years in prison.

Former Frederick Attorney Faces a Maximum of 23 years

Former Frederick attorney, Richard A. Brennan, is now facing jail time after pleading guilty to mail fraud and tax charges. Brennan first opened his practice in 2006 with the main focus of providing clients with debt-settlement services. Brennan allegedly misappropriated clients' funds intended to pay off their debts, and used the money for his own needs. Over a three year period this caused his clients to lose about $2.9 million. In 2007, the Maryland Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division investigated him for these allegations. The Attorney General and Brennan came to a settlement in which he would pay $200,000 in fines and costs and repay clients harmed by his scheme. Unfortunately, Brennan never followed the terms of the settlement and never returned any of the money to his clients.

LPL Hit with $11.7 million Fine

LPL Financial was fined $11.7 million by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for supervisory failures. FINRA believes that the supervisory failures began in 2007 when LPL allegedly did not properly supervise the sale of complex products. FINRA also alleges that the system LPL had in place to review customer accounts was deficient which caused 67,000 customers to not receive 14 million trade confirmations.

Broker to Celebs Barred by FINRA

Aaron Parthemer, a Wells Fargo financial advisor to pro athletes and celebrities, has been banned from the securities industry. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) claimed that Parthemer failed to disclose multiple outside business activities including running a popular Miami nightclub, Club Play. FINRA believes that Parthemer solicited his clients to invest in the nightclub and made unapproved loans involving the club. Parthemer also allegedly solicited more than a half dozen pro athlete clients to invest over $3 million in an internet branding company that was operated by a close friend. Finally, FINRA claims that Parthemer supplied false information in connection with its investigation.

Former JP Morgan Advisor Accused of Swindling $20 million from Customers

Michael Oppenheim, a former JP Morgan advisor, has been charged by federal authorities for allegedly stealing $20 million from client accounts. On over twenty occasions, Oppenheim withdrew money, anywhere from $300,000 to $2 million at a time, from clients accounts and deposited the monies into his own personal account. Oppenheim was able to carry out the fraud by providing customers with false account statements which made it appear their monies were invested in bonds. JP Morgan has pledged to reimburse victimized clients.

Financial Coach and Author Sentenced to 9 years in Prison

Financial coach and author, Bryan Binkholder, has been sentenced to nine years in prison for soliciting clients to participate in his "hard money lending" program. Prosecutors allege that the program was falsely described as a real estate investment in which Binkholder would allegedly act as a bank to developers. While Binkholder did make some loans to real estate developers, he used the majority of the money for his own personal expenses. Binkholder's sentence also requires him to pay over $3.6 million in restitution. Binkholder allegedly is planning on appealing the sentence.

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