Tag Archives: Minnesota

Investor Losses with Cadaret Grant

Investors suffering losses with Cadaret Grant may have recourse.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation.

Cadaret entered into a regulatory settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority on September 11, 2018.   Cadaret agreed to pay an $800,000 fine.  It also agreed to a censure and to review and change its policies to detect inappropriate sales practices by its brokers.  One focus was on the sale and exchanges of variable annuities.

Invest photo 2Cadaret failed to employ sufficient compliance personnel to adequately supervise its brokers.  Brokers have many incentives to recommend investments that are too aggressive or otherwise unsuitable for an investor.  Sufficient compliance personnel are needed and required by regulators to protect investors from this known risk.

All licensed securities brokers have a legal obligation to recommend only suitable investments.  Investments are all known to have a certain range of risk when recommended.  Certain investments are known to have higher risks than others.  Investments that can increase sharply in value can sometimes decrease equally as fast.  Investments can only be recommended when the risk the investment poses is consistent with the risk consistent with the investor.  For example, a retired individual should only be recommended investments with little to no risk.  So when such an individual loses 20% or more of portfolio value in a year, the portfolio was likely unsuitable when first recommended.

As a result of its insufficient compliance, Cadaret had only three compliance people overlooking weekly trades, or “blotter reviews.”  Such reviews are needed to detect over-concentration of portfolios, such as portfolios being invested too heavily in either one investment, a single industry, or being too heavily weighted in a single investment vehicle, such as stocks or annuities.  Such concentration is unsuitable because it greatly increases the level of risk in the portfolio.

The blotter review also protected investors from broker churning.  This is an action where a broker puts his/her own interest ahead of the investor.   Excessive trades are made that work more to generate commissions for the broker than to protect the interests of the investor.

Churning depends on the cost of the exchange.  With products such as variable annuities, churning can happen with a single exchange.  One of the issues faced by Cadaret is from the replacement of one variable annuity with another.  There are very few circumstances where variable annuity exchanges are justified.

Cadaret’s supervisory procedures also required examiners in the compliance department to conduct periodic inspections of branch offices to detect and prevent violations by registered representatives in those locations. However, Cadaret employed an insufficient number of compliance examiners for this purpose. For instance, in 2014, the Firm tasked three compliance examiners with inspecting over 400 geographically-disperse branches. As a result, these inspections were conducted in a manner not reasonably designed to identify violative activity.

Jeffrey Pederson has represented investors across the United States in suitability suits.  These suits are largely handled through FINRA arbitration.  Please call for consultation.

Steve Knuttila investor recovery

If you were an investor with Steve Knuttila please call 1-866-817-0201 to discuss your options for investment loss recovery.  Jeffrey Pederson represents investors nationwide in issues of investment mismanagement and investment fraud.

Mr. Knuttila has recently lost his securities license and has come under the scrutiny of Minnesota securities regulators after a long history of defrauding investors and mismanaging the life savings of people.  FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, discloses the number of “disclosure events” a broker receives.  Such events include regulatory investigations, investor lawsuits and written investor complaints concerning a broker.  Four such disclosure events require a brokerage to give a broker heightened supervision or terminate a broker.  In the case of Mr. Knutilla, he has over 20 such disclosure events.

Knuttila has previously worked with a Questar and Capital Financial Services.  Both these firms have potential liability for the actions of Knuttila.  The history of disclosure events made the hiring and continued employment of Knuttia questionable.

Invest photo 2The beginning of the end for Knuttila was in 2017.  In November 2017, FINRA, the regulator overseeing stockbrokers nationwide, began an investigation into allegations that Knuttila made unsuitable recommendations to customers. The sale of unsuitable investors is a form of negligence and can be a form of fraud.  On May 10, 2018, FINRA staff sent a request to Knuttila for on-the-record testimony pursuant to FINRA Rule 8210. As stated in his phone call with FINRA staff on May 21, 2018, and by this agreement, Knuttila acknowledges that he received FINRA’s request and will not appear for on-the-record testimony at any time.  FINRA barred Knuttila from the securities industry.

On April 2, 2018, the Minnesota Department of Commerce issued a Consent Order permanently barring Knuttila from engaging in the sale or offering of securities and any related securities activity in the State of Minnesota, revoking his insurance producer’s license, and fining Knuttila $40,000, of which $30,000 was stayed, based upon findings that Knuttila made misrepresentations and omissions of fact, breached his fiduciary duties, and made unsuitable recommendations in connection with the sale of securities.

 

Tags:  Knutilla, Knutttila, CFS, Minnesota, Minot, North Dakota, Perham.

 

 

Mark Holt Loss Recovery

Mark Holt is a former stock broker currently serving a prison sentence for stealing the funds of his investors and sending false account documents.  The scheme victimized investors in Minnesota and likely elsewhere.  Due to the incarceration, investors seeking recovery will likely need to pursue Holt’s former employers by means of FINRA arbitration for loss recovery.

From August 2005 to February 2007, Holt was a registered representative of Geneos Wealth Management, Inc., which is both a securities brokerage and investment adviser. From February 2007 to November 2013, Holt was a registered representative of Harbour Investments, Inc., which is also a dually registered entity. Holt, 47 years old, is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin.

guy in handcuffsDetails of the SEC action can be found in its release.

On August 14, 2014, Holt was sentenced to a prison term of 120 months followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $2,940,982.75.  The chances of these payments being made is not great considering Holt could be incarcerated for much of the next ten years.

The allegations are that from about September 2005 through Jan. 12, 2014, Holt “knowingly caused an email communication to be transmitted in interstate commerce via servers in Texas to a client in Minnesota that would give the client access to false account statements.”

The SEC and the criminal documents state that Holt “misappropriated [investor] funds by depositing client checks into a bank account he controlled and using these funds to pay for personal and business expenses. In furtherance of his scheme, Holt lulled his clients into believing that he had purchased various investments for them by sending fraudulent Morningstar client summaries and [...] a web-based portal, that displayed fraudulent account balances.”

“Holt made monthly payments to his clients that were intended to appear as interest or annuity payments,” in a classic Ponzi-type scheme.

Charles Lee Deremo

Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc. of Syracuse, New York and Stockbroker Charles Lee Deremo of Apple Valley, Minnesota submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent.

If you invested with either Cadaret or Deremo, please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with an attorney.

Cadaret was censured and fined $10,000 and Deremo was fined of $5,000,
suspended from association with any FINRA member, which is any stockbrokerage or financial advisory firm, in any capacity for 10 business days.

The firm and Deremo consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that the firm failed to enforce its own procedures and conduct an adequate suitability review of Deremo’s recommended investment strategy for a customer.  This is in violation of FINRA rules that require a brokerage firm to review recommendations of brokers to verify that the recommendations are suitable.

The findings, which were neither admitted nor denied, stated that the firm failed to identify that Deremo’s basis for the recommendation of a strategy for the customer may not have been suitable given the customer’s age, his investment objectives, his risk tolerance and the concentration of his investment. Moreover, the customer relied on monthly withdrawals from his variable annuity for living expenses.

The regulatory document giving more details of the underlying facts can be found with the following link.

If you believe you were also sold unsuitable securities, please call the number above for a free consultation on your legal rights and whether you have grounds for recovery.  Regulatory actions such as this can often expose the basis for additional private actions.

Dougherty & Company Investment Losses

 

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced in January 2017 that it resolved a regulatory action against Dougherty & Company LLC, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  We believe that this action exposed supervisory problems within Dougherty and may entitle investors of certain investments recovery for investment losses.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with an attorney

Dougherty entered into a settlement agreement with FINRA regulators, where Dougherty did not did not admit or deny fault, but agreed to a censure, a fine of $140,000, and required to pay $78,910 in restitution to a customer.  The action stems from the allegation that for more than four years, Dougherty did not adequately supervise a securities broker who initiated hundreds of trades for elderly customers without contacting them, thus lacking appropriate authorization, and unsuitably recommended dozens of transactions to those customers. Unsuitable recommendations are investment recommendations that were of higher risk than the investor agreed to assume.

The settlement agreement contained certain findings of fact, and those findings stated that Dougherty assigned the primary responsibility for supervising broker trading activity to a supervisor who was also responsible for supervising numerous other brokers and handling his own customers’ accounts. The supervisor’s supervision of the broker in question was not subject to adequate firm oversight or specific direction. Instead, Dougherty inappropriately relied on the supervisor’s discretion and judgment, which the supervisor did not exercise appropriately.

The findings also stated that the firm did not have supervisory tools that were reasonably designed to detect financial adviser or broker misconduct.  FINRA stated that while the supervisor received daily trade blotters and certain monthly exception reports, data generated by a brokerage firm that identifies the investments recommended by a broker and warns of potentially inappropriate investment recommendations, the firm did not provide exception reports addressing short-term trading or margin usage by the financial adviser to the supervisor.

Additionally, the firm’s exception reports designed to identify inappropriate recommendations to elderly customers excluded accounts in the name of a trust, regardless of the age of the settlor or trustee.  Such shortcomings are important because the broker’s trading activity in two of the accounts at issue did not appear on those exception reports because of the existence of a trust.

The findings also included that the firm failed to respond appropriately to warning signs about the broker’s business, such as a dramatic increase in his commissions without a commensurate change in the number of accounts that he handled or the type of products that he sold. In sum, the firm’s system of supervision was not reasonably designed under the circumstances to prevent violations of securities laws and rules, including rules governing trading without customers’ approval and unsuitable recommendations.

The full AWC can be found at the following link.

Jeffrey Pederson PC is a private law firm that has helped hundreds of investors successfully recover similar losses.

 

Levi David Lindemann Ponzi Victims

Stock handcuffsAs reported in Investmentnews.com, Levi David Lindemann, a Minnesota-based investment adviser has received a six-plus-year prison sentence for stealing from clients and perpetuating a Ponzi scheme.

The 40-year-old adviser, Lindemann, was sentenced to 74 months in prison by a Minnesota federal court, after having pled guilty earlier this year to federal mail fraud and money-laundering charges.

Mr. Lindemann owned and operated Gershwin Financial Inc., which did business under the name Alternative Wealth Solutions, between 2009 and 2014.

“Lindemann abused his position of trust as a financial adviser to steal from his clients, including the elderly ” Mike Rothman, Minnesota’s commerce commissioner, said. “Lindemann defrauded his victims by promising to put their money in legitimate, safe investments when he actually used the funds to pay for personal expenses and Ponzi-type payments to other clients to cover up and continue his fraud.”

According to Mr. Lindemann’s guilty plea, he solicited funds from roughly 50 investors and said he would “use the invested funds to buy secured notes or other legitimate investment vehicles.”

If you are a victim of Lindemann or some other Ponzi scheme, please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to a private attorney on a free and confidential basis to discuss your rights in private litigation.

David B. Tysk of Ameriprise Investment Loss

If you suffered investment loss with David B. Tysk please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation.

David Tysk, financial advisor for Ameriprise in Eden Prairie, MN, was fined $50,000 and
suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for one year. The
Invest photo 2NAC affirmed the findings in the OHO decision and increased the sanctions. The sanctions
were based on findings that Tysk altered computer notes of customer contacts after the
customer complained about the suitability of a recommendation.

The findings stated that Tysk knew or should have known the importance of customer-related notes in the event of complaints. Tysk’s concealed alterations of his notes did not comply with the clear import of the document-retention policies in his member firm’s code of conduct. Tysk failed toinform the firm of the alterations when he provided a copy of the notes to be produced in discovery during an arbitration proceeding.

The customer became suspicious of the notes and requested further discovery to determine whether the notes had been altered after he lodged his complaint with the firm. Tysk and his firm opposed the requests. In a meeting to prepare for the arbitration hearing, Tysk finally disclosed to the firm that he had altered the notes. At the conclusion of the arbitration hearing, the firm and Tysk were sanctioned for violating arbitration discovery rules.

A copy of the NAC decision can be found at the following link.

Recovery for Jean Walsh-Josephson Losses

If you were an investor of Jean Walsh-Josephson, please call 1-866-877-0201 for a free consultation concerning potential recovery for your losses.

broker in handcuffsJean A. Walsh-Josephson was a financial advisor for Thrivent, formerly Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.  A Winnebago County judge has ordered a two-week trial for this former Oshkosh, Wisconsin financial adviser who accused of stealing $4 million from her mostly elderly investment clients.

The trial for Walsh-Josephson is set for Feb. 20 through March 3, 2017. Judge Thomas Gritton ordered the trial this week, days after victims and their families gathered in court May 13 for what they were led to believe would be a plea and sentencing hearing.

Walsh-Josephson faces 28 counts of theft in a business setting of more than $10,000 each after authorities say she stole more than one million dollars from at least seven clients in Winnebago and Outagamie counties. She also faces felony forgery misdemeanor theft and obstructing an officer charges after authorities say she stole $400 from a client while acting as a third-party intermediary in a property dispute.

If convicted on all charges, she could face a maximum sentence of 287 ½ years in prison.

The question for investors is the question of why Thrivent did not detect this level of theft.  All firms have a duty to take reasonable steps to detect and prevent broker theft.

Jeffrey Pederson has handled numerous cases concerning the theft and outside activity of brokers and have helped investors obtain favorable judgments and settlements.  Please call for a free consultation.

Losses at LPL Financial

LPLIf you have lost money with LPL you may be entitled to recovery of some or all of your losses.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 toll-free to speak to a lawyer for more information.

In May 2016, LPL broker Brian David Smit of Sioux Falls, South Dakota was barred from the securities industry.  This was pursuant to an agreement reached between Smit and FINRA regulators, an agreement referred to as an “AWC.”  The allegations concerned the sale of unapproved private securities.  His record also reflects that Smit was under investigation for such sale when he left LPL.  The sale of unapproved investments is a matter of concern since it is commonly a vehicle for fraud.

On May 6, 2015, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (“FINRA”), ordered LPL Financial to pay $11.7 million in fines and restitution for what it deemed “widespread supervisory failures” related to sales of complex investment products.  Such products are suitable for only a limited portion of the investing public and FINRA prohibits the sale of such products to investors to whom such investments would not be suitable.

From 2007 to as recently as April 2015, LPL failed to properly supervise sales of certain complex investments, including certain exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), variable annuities and nontraded real estate investment trusts (“REITs”), and also failed to properly deliver more than 14 million trade confirmations to customers, according to the regulator.

LPL did not have a system in place to monitor the length of time customers held securities in their accounts or to enforce limits on concentrations of those complex products in customer accounts, FINRA said.  Such issues can lead to the sale of unsuitable investments and put such portfolios in a position of greater risk than the investor may have wanted or could afford to take.

The systems that LPL had in place to review trading activity in customer accounts were plagued by “multiple deficiencies,” Finra said. The firm failed to generate proper anti-money laundering alerts, for instance, and did not deliver trade confirmations in 67,000 customer accounts, according to the settlement letter.

The regulator also charged the firm for failing to supervise advertising and other communications, including brokers’ use of consolidated reports.

The penalty includes a $10 million fine and restitution of $1.7 million to customers who were sold certain exchange traded funds (“ETFs”). FINRA said the firm may pay additional compensation to ETF purchasers “pending a review of its ETF systems and procedures.”  As such, investors should speak to an attorney to maximize recovery of losses.

Content from this post from Investmentnews.com.

 

Variable Annuity Fraud

We help investors who believe that they are victims of variable annuity fraud.  Variable annuity fraud has always been a frequent trick of brokers looking to put their own interests ahead of their investors (often by selling to those approaching retirement which is generally an unsuitable recommendation).  The investments pay an extremely high commission and the investments are only suitable for a small section of the investing public.  This fraud hit a new low last week.

As reported in http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20140313/FREE/140319954, the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday, March 13, 2014, filed charges against a group of brokers in a scheme wherein investors used variable annuities to wager on the lives of the terminally ill.

The brokers in question were Michael A. Horowitz of Los Angeles and Moshe Marc Cohen of Brooklyn, N.Y.

The brokers allegedly obtained the personal health and identification data of the dying patients through fraud, marking them as annuitants on variable annuity contracts that he had marketed to wealthy clients, according to the SEC’s complaint.  Under false pretenses, the brokers allegedly received their employers’ approval to sell the annuities.  The motivation with this plan, as with most fraudulent sales of variable annuities was the commission.  Variable annuities pay as large of a commission as just about any investment product that you can purchase through a securities brokerage.  The brokers reaped approximately $1 million in commissions from their sale, the SEC claimed, with Mr. Horowitz obtaining more than $300,000 and Mr. Cohen became unjustly enriched to the tune of more than $700,000.

If you have lost money with these or any other brokers you believe may have defrauded or mismanaged you portfolio call 303-300-5022.