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David Panetta, a representative formerly employed with Allstate Financial Services, LLC (Allstate), submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent in which he consented to, but did not admit to or deny, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) findings that he engaged in outside business activities without his firm’s approval.

FINRA’s findings state that while employed by Allstate, David M. Panetta, of Clark, New Jersey, sold nine unapproved insurance products through an entity unaffiliated with Allstate.  Mr. Panetta allegedly received $12,000 in compensation for the prohibited sales, but failed to disclose the sales or his compensation to his member firm.  Further, FINRA found that Mr. Panetta falsely answered “no” on the firm annual attestations to the questions asking if he had any outside business activities or accepted compensation from any unapproved entity.  Mr. Panetta was assessed a deferred fine of $7,500 and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for two months. The suspension was in effect from June 5, 2017 through August 4, 2017. Continue reading →

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Jose Perez, a representative formerly employed with MetLife Securities, Inc. (MetLife), submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent in which he consented to, but did not admit to or deny, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) findings that he directed his assistant to impersonate his customer, while he impersonated the customer’s brother, in order to effect a transfer of funds.

FINRA’s findings state that while employed by MetLife Securities, Jose J. Perez, of Orland Park, Illinois, was advised that his customer was retiring and asked that he transfer pension funds held by a third-party company to her MetLife account.  In an attempt to accommodate the customer’s request, Mr. Perez and his assistant telephoned the third-party company and, instead of using their real names, Mr. Perez allegedly impersonated the customer’s brother and his assistant allegedly impersonated the customer.  According to FINRA, Mr. Perez and his assistant directed the third-party company to transfer funds to the MetLife account, but failed to realize that the customer held two retirement accounts with the company.  Consequently, the funds transferred were funds from the customer’s 401(k) account rather than the pension account. Continue reading →

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James Schaedler, Jr., former registered representative with Wells Fargo Clearing Services (Wells Fargo), has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for refusing to produce information and documents requested by FINRA in connection with an investigation into allegations that he exercised undue influence over an elderly former client and improperly received a $200,000 gift from another elderly client.

FINRA began an investigation in January 2016, into allegations that James Robert Schaedler, Jr., of Corona, California, exercised undue influence over a former elderly client, who ultimately amended her trust to make Mr. Schaedler a partial beneficiary and residual beneficiary of her $2.3 million dollar estate.  Further, FINRA expanded its investigation to include allegations that Mr. Schaedler improperly received a gift of $200,000 from a second elderly client. Continue reading →

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Former Girard Securities broker Jason LeBlanc, of Fulshear, Texas, has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for numerous violations, including misuse of customer funds, failure to disclose outside business activities, and engaging in private securities transactions without the firm’s approval.

According to FINRA, Jason Hyson LeBlanc violated FINRA rules by engaging in private securities transactions without his firm’s knowledge or approval by selling numerous promissory notes and partnership interests in a coffee shop. FINRA also found that Mr. LeBlanc misused customer funds when he sold a customer a $23,000 promissory note to invest in the coffee shop, returned $3,000 to the customer, and invested the remaining $20,000 in a real estate investment company without her knowledge or consent.  Further, Mr. LeBlanc was found by FINRA to have commingled customer and personal funds to pay bills for various business entities and his personal expenses.  Without admitting or denying FINRA’s findings, Mr. LeBlanc was barred from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity. Continue reading →

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Former Cetera Advisor Networks broker Mark Koehler has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for refusing to produce information and documents requested by FINRA in connection with an investigation into unsuitable trading in a senior customer’s accounts, including short-term mutual fund switching and excessive trading.

FINRA began an investigation in April 2014, upon receipt of a tip that Mark Charles Koehler, of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, had engaged in unsuitable trading in the accounts of a senior customer.  In the course of its investigation, FINRA reviewed trading in other of Mr. Koehler’s customer accounts and sought to investigate the following:  whether Mr. Koehler engaged in unsuitable short-term mutual fund switching and excessive trading; whether he placed undue influence on a customer before her death; and whether Mr. Koehler failed to disclose his status as beneficiary in the same customer’s will. Continue reading →

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Cetera Advisors LLC has agreed to pay more than $628,000 in restitution to customers who were overcharged in certain mutual fund purchases.  According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), between July 1, 2009 and January 1, 2017, Cetera Advisors disadvantaged certain retirement plan and charitable organization customers that were eligible to purchase Class A shares of certain mutual funds without a front-end sales charge.  The customers were instead sold Class A shares with a front-end sales charge or Class B or C shares with back-end sales charges and higher ongoing fees and expenses.

Cetera Advisors is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, with approximately 1,788 registered representatives and 961 branch offices.  According to the Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) submitted to FINRA, Cetera Advisors failed to reasonably supervise the application of the sales charge waivers to the eligible mutual fund sales, relying on its financial advisors to determine the applicability of sales charge waivers.  Further, Cetera Advisors allegedly failed to adequately notify and train its financial advisors regarding the availability of mutual fund sales charge waivers for eligible customers.  Without admitting or denying the findings, Cetera Advisors was censured, required to provide a remediation plan to FINRA, and agreed to pay restitution to eligible customers who were overcharged an estimated $628,040.  Continue reading →

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John Regan, a registered representative formerly employed with Guggenheim Securities, LLC, has been permanently barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) amid findings that he converted funds for his personal use.

According to FINRA, John Emmett Regan, of New York, New York, converted approximately $25,000 in firm funds between September 2012 and March 2014.  Mr. Regan allegedly falsely submitted approximately 90 personal expenses for reimbursement as business expenses.  Conversion of funds is a violation of FINRA Rule 2010.  Conversion is the intentional and unauthorized taking of ownership over property by one who neither owns the property nor is entitled to have it.  Without admitting or denying FINRA’s findings, Mr. Regan was permanently barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. Continue reading →

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MSI Financial Services, Inc. has agreed to pay more than $2.2 million in restitution to customers who were overcharged in certain mutual fund purchases.  According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), between July 1, 2009 and March 27, 2017, MSI Financial Services disadvantaged certain retirement plan and charitable organization customers that were eligible to purchase Class A shares of certain mutual funds without a front-end sales charge.  The customers were instead sold Class A shares with a front-end sales charge or Class B or C shares with back-end sales charges and higher ongoing fees and expenses.

MSI Financial Services is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts, with more than 5,300 registered representatives and 700 branch offices. According to the Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) submitted to FINRA, MSI Financial Services failed to reasonably supervise the application of the sales charge waivers to the eligible mutual fund sales, relying on its financial advisors to determine the applicability of sales charge waivers.  Further, MSI Financial Services allegedly failed to adequately notify and train its financial advisors regarding the availability of mutual fund sales charge waivers for eligible customers.  Without admitting or denying the findings, MSI Financial Services was censured, required to provide a remediation plan to FINRA, and agreed to pay restitution to eligible customers who were overcharged an estimated $2,200,000.  Continue reading →

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Cetera Advisor Networks has agreed to pay more than $1.9 million in restitution to customers who were overcharged in certain mutual fund purchases.  According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), between July 1, 2009 and January 1, 2017, Cetera Advisor Networks disadvantaged certain retirement plan and charitable organization customers that were eligible to purchase Class A shares of certain mutual funds without a front-end sales charge.  The customers were instead sold Class A shares with a front-end sales charge or Class B or C shares with back-end sales charges and higher ongoing fees and expenses.  Continue reading →

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Steven Olejniczak, a former registered representative with Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. (Edward Jones) was fined and suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for allegedly failing to disclose that an elderly customer had designated him and his wife as account beneficiaries.

According to FINRA, Steven Anthony Olejniczak, of Grimes, Iowa, was designated as the beneficiary of 90% of the assets in his elderly customer’s account.  Firm rules prohibit registered representatives from being named as beneficiary by his/her own customer while continuing to service the account.  Mr. Olejniczak failed to notify his member firm of his own beneficiary designation and the naming of his wife as beneficiary of the customer’s firm account and estate.  Additionally, FINRA found that Mr. Olejniczak failed to disclose that his customer had executed a document that gave him medical power of attorney in the event the customer became incapacitated. Continue reading →