The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against former Philadelphia Eagle, Merrill Robertson, Jr., and his partner Sherman Vaughn. The SEC believes that Robertson and Vaughn defrauded investors out of $6 million. Robertson and Vaughn were able to raise $10 million from investors based upon false promises of a 20% return. The money was not used for legitimate investment purposes. Instead, investor funds were used to pay personal expenses and to make payments to earlier investors.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) filed a complaint against Hank Werner, formerly with Legend Securities Inc. FINRA believes Werner churned an elderly widow's account. His client's husband died in 2012 and from that time up until March of this year, Werner placed over 700 trades on hundreds of different securities. Werner's scheme produced $243,000 in commissions and losses totaling $184,000 for his client.
Dez Bryant, the Dallas Cowboy's wide receiver, filed suit against his former legal and financial advisors alleging theft. Bryant filed the claim in response to his advisors' claims against Bryant for damages to a rental property. Bryant is claiming that his advisors stole over $200,000 from him.
Patrick Churchville, the owner of Clear Path Wealth Management, plead guilty to five counts of wire fraud and one count of tax fraud. Mr. Churchville allegedly operated a $21 million Ponzi scheme. Investigators believe that the Ponzi scheme began in 2008 and Churchville used investor funds to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Frederick Baerenz was ordered by a FINRA arbitration panel to pay $331,000 for damages caused by unsuitable investment recommendations to clients. The clients invested $1.3 million with Baernez's Virginia-based firm, AOG Wealth Management. The clients claim that Baerenz invested a large majority of their money in private placements without fully explaining the risks of such investments.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered Lee Weiss and his brokerage firm, Family Endowment Partners, LLC, to refund $8.4 million to defrauded investors. Additionally, the SEC fined Mr. Weiss $1.5 million and barred him from the securities industry. The SEC believes that Mr. Weiss had clients invest $40 million over a two year period in a stock named Biosyntec. Weiss received over $600,000 in compensation directly from the company. The SEC also alleges that Weiss failed to disclose the risks of the investment to his clients and the fact that the company was failing to meet its ongoing financial obligations.
William Marshall Dratel and his firm, The Dratel Group, Inc., were both expelled from the securities industry by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also imposed sanctions on the firm for allegedly engaging in a trading scheme in which Dratel picked profitable day trades for his own account and designated the non-profitable trades for his customers' accounts. Through his scheme, Dratel's clients lost more than $200,000 in their discretionary accounts and Dratel profited about $489,000. FINRA is requiring Dratel to disgorge all profits from the scheme.
Washington, D.C. based financial advisor and radio talk show host, Dawn Bennett, and her firm, Bennett Financial Group, have been barred by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC announced their charges of fraud against Bennett in September 2015. Leading up to these charges, Bennett has been the subject of multiple client complaints. Early this year, Bennett failed to appear and testify at the SEC hearing.
Louis Martin Blazer, III, a financial advisor from Pittsburgh, was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly creating a Ponzi scheme. The SEC believes Blazer defrauded his pro athlete clients by taking about $2.35 million out of their accounts, without their authorization, and invested it into two films he was producing. One of Blazer's clients noticed that Blazer had taken $500,000 from his account for the films. When the client told Blazer he was going to file a lawsuit, Blazer said he would return the money. The SEC believes that he was able to make the repayment by using money misappropriated from another client's account.
Guy Gentile, an owner of a broker-dealer in New York, was recently indicted on charges of securities fraud. Mr. Gentile is accused of participating in a pump and dump scheme that generated $17.2 million in trading proceeds. The scheme involved the manipulation of the share prices of Raven Gold Corp. and Kentucky USA Energy, Inc. If found guilty, Gentile can face up to twenty years in prison.