Securities Lawyer Blog | Victim of Fraud?

Apr/14

23

Did You Invest With VSR Financial Services?

Soreide Law Group is currently investigating VSR Financial Services. In May, 2013, VSR Financial Services was sanctioned and fined $550,000 by FINRA for supervisory failures in connection with the sale of non-conventional or alternative investments.
The following is a list of various alternative or non-conventional investments suggested to our clients as recommendations of VSR or other brokerages. Many of these products have a certain risk factor that was outside of the realm of the investment strategies of these clients.

Alliance Petroleum Corp 2002 B
Alliance Petroleum Corp 2004 A
Alliance Petroleum Corp 2005 A
Alliance Petroleum Corp 2005 B
Alliance Petroleum Corp 2006 A
Alliance Petroleum Corp 2006 B
Alliance Petroleum Corp 2007 A
AmREIT Monthly Income & Gr. Fund IV, LP
ArciTerra National REIT
ArciTerra Note Fund II, LLC
ArciTerra Real Estate Investment trust, Inc.
ArciTerra Whitefish Opportunity Fund, LLC
Atlas America Public #12 – 2003 Ltd.
Atlas America Series #25 – 2004A Ltd.
Bradford Drilling Associates 20, LP
Bradford Drilling Associates 23, LP
Bradford Drilling Associates 25, LP
Cypress Equipment Fund 15
Cypress Equipment Fund 16
Cypress Equipment Fund IX
DBSI 2006 Secured Notes Corporation
DBSI 2008 Notes Corp 9.5%
Evergreen Realty REIT, Inc.
Leaf Commercial Finance
MacFarlan Diversified Income
MacKenzie Patterson Income Fund 22,LLC
MacKenzie Patterson Senior Note 1
MacKenzie Patterson Senior Note 2
MacKenzie Patterson special Fund 10, LLC
Mewbourne Energy Partners 07-A, LP
Mewbourne Energy Partners 08-A, LP
Odyssey Diversified Notes IX
Odyssey Properties III, Inc.
UDF Land Opportunity Fund, LP
United Development Funding III
Waveland Vanguard Partners, LLC
Cole Credit Property Trust II, Ltd.
Cole Senior Notes III 8.25%
Gentry Mills Capital (GMI -ES 14,LP)
NNN Triple Net Properties
G REIT, Inc.
Odyssey Diversified Notes VII
Odyssey Residential Realty II, LLC 9% Note
Cole Credit Property II
KBS REIT II
United Development, LP
ArciTerra Note III

If you have sustained investment losses due to your stock broker or financial advisor’s recommendations in alternative or non-conventional investments, call for your free consultation on how to potentially recover those losses. To speak with an attorney call Soreide Law Group: 888-760-6552.

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The following summation of information is available on FINRA’s Website under “Disciplinary and Other FINRA Actions, April, 2014.”

Jeffrey Robert Alexander (CRD #5387133, Registered Representative, Colorado Springs, Colorado)

was fined $5,000 and suspended by FINRA for three months. Alexander allegedly recommended investors purchase interests in an oil and gas program to fund the drilling of a well. According to the FINRA report, Alexander did not have even a reasonable basis for personally believing it to be suitable for any investor.

FINRA’s findings stated there were “red flags” with the offering company. Some of those red flags were the company’s lack of disclosures in the private placement memorandum, and the vagueness of other disclosures. The subscription agreements that the customers completed also lacked particular information such as the client’s financial situation, their risk tolerance, and what their liquidity needs might be. Consequently, Alexander could not reasonably believe that investing in an oil and gas program was suitable for clients who invested.
The suspension is in effect from March 3, 2014, through June 2, 2014.

(FINRA Case #2012030570701)

Jeff Alexander was previously registered with the following FINRA firm(s):

SHORELINE PACIFIC, LLC (CRD# 104417) – SAN FRANCISCO, CA
07/2012 – 01/2013

CHASE INVESTMENT SERVICES CORP. (CRD# 25574) – COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
08/2007 – 01/2008

If your stock broker/financial advisor recommended high risk oil and gas offerings, call Soreide Law Group for a free consultation on how to potentially recover those investment losses. To speak with an attorney call 888-760-6552.

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The Fort Lauderdale-based, Soreide Law Group, (888) 760-6552, obtained this summation of the following information from FINRA’s website under “Disciplinary and Other FINRA Actions, April, 2014.”

Timothy Burke Ruggiero (CRD #2119642, Registered Principal, Plantation, Florida)

was barred by FINRA for allegedly engaging in intentional stock price manipulation. FINRA’s findings stated that Ruggiero not only allegedly participated in the manipulative stock price scheme, but as the firm’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), did not stop it, even though he was in the position to do so.

According to the FINRA report, Ruggiero allegedly traded in stock for two offerings during the restricted periods. Also, allegedly Ruggiero forged initials on the order tickets for supervisory evidence in the transactions. Ruggiero did not ensure that the firm had an effective system for electronic communications in place.

Also in the FINRA report, it alleges that Ruggiero failed to supervise the firm’s trading and electronic communications. Timothy Ruggiero failed to ensure that his firm had the proper system to retain the emails and prevent the use of outside, personal email accounts. (FINRA Case #2008011675301)

According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck, Timothy Burke Ruggiero was previously registered with the following FINRA firm(s):

BROOKSHIRE SECURITIES CORPORATION (CRD# 44347) – FT. LAUDERDALE, FL
05/1998 – 03/2009

HAMPSHIRE SECURITIES CORPORATION (CRD# 19725) – NEW YORK, NY
09/1995 – 02/1997

JOSEPHTHAL LYON & ROSS INCORPORATED (CRD# 3227) – NEW YORK, NY
12/1993 – 10/1995

A.S. GOLDMEN & CO., INC. (CRD# 23180) – RED BANK, NJ
03/1993 – 01/1994

M.S. FARRELL & COMPANY, INC. (CRD# 24232) – SYOSSET, NY
03/1992 – 02/1993

PARAGON CAPITAL CORPORATION (CRD# 18555) – EAST HANOVER, NJ
FINRA expelled the firm in 02/2004 12/1991 – 03/1992

JOSEPHTHAL LYON & ROSS INCORPORATED (CRD# 3227) – NEW YORK, NY
07/1991 – 12/1991

D. H. BLAIR & CO., INC. (CRD# 6833) – NEW YORK, NY
05/1991 – 07/1991

This ends the summation of information from FINRA’s website.

Soreide Law Group represents investors nationwide before FINRA. Call for a free consultation with an attorney at (954) 760-6552.

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Fort Lauderdale-based Soreide Law Group, (888) 760-6552, has obtained this summation of information from FINRA’s website under “Disciplinary and Other FINRA Actions, April, 2014.”

Daniel Simon Pikula (CRD #2563165, Registered Representative, Wellington, Florida)

was fined $5,000 and suspended by FINRA member for 15 business days.

According to the FINRA report, allegedly Pikula exercised discretion in customer accounts at his member firm. FINRA’s findings stated that in some of the transactions, Daniel Pikula exercised discretion even though he did not have the written authorization by his customers to place discretionary trades. Also, according to FINRA, Pikula failed to obtain his firm’s written acceptance of these accounts as discretionary.

Pikula’s suspension was in effect from March 17, 2014, through April 4, 2014.

(FINRA Case #2011029763601)

Daniel Simon Pikula is currently registered with the following FINRA firm(s):

NEWBRIDGE SECURITIES CORPORATION (CRD# 104065) Registered with this firm since 6/5/2008
1451 CYPRESS CREEK ROAD, SUITE 204, FT. LAUDERDALE, FL 33309

Daniel Simon Pikula was previously registered with the following FINRA firm(s):

NEWBRIDGE SECURITIES CORPORATION (CRD# 104065) – FT. LAUDERDALE, FL
12/2006 – 07/2007

NEWBRIDGE SECURITIES CORPORATION (CRD# 104065) – WEST PALM BCH, FL
10/2001 – 07/2006

EISNER SECURITIES, INC. (CRD# 40585) – ST. LOUIS, MO
12/1998 – 10/2001

FIRST ALBANY CORPORATION (CRD# 298) – NEW YORK, NY
10/1997 – 10/1998

MESIROW FINANCIAL, INC. (CRD# 2764) – CHICAGO, IL
03/1996 – 10/1997

H.J. MEYERS & CO., INC. (CRD# 15609) – ROCHESTER, NY
FINRA expelled the firm in 03/1999 12/1995 – 03/1996

L.C. WEGARD & CO., INC. (CRD# 3722) – NEW YORK, NY
02/1995 – 11/1995

This ends the information from FINRA.

Soreide Law Group represents investors nationwide before FINRA. For a free consultation with an attorney, Soreide Law Group can be reached (954) 760-6552.

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Apr/14

21

Florida Broker Barred by FINRA

The following information is available on FINRA’s Website under “Disciplinary and Other FINRA Actions, April, 2014.”

Gregg N. Nussbaum (CRD #2020751, Registered Representative, Deerfield, Florida)

has been barred by FINRA. Allegedly, according to the FINRA report, Nussbaum intentionally exceeded his trading authority. FINRA’s findings stated that his firm authorized Nussbaum could only simultaneously open and close a U.S. Treasury position of no greater than $5 million so as not to engage in risky principal trading for the firm. However Nussbaum did not simultaneously open and close positions and he left positions open for long periods of time throughout the trading day and he opened positions in excess of the $5 million par value limit.

According to FINRA, Nussbaum allegedly had intentionally submitted order tickets with false execution times to the firm and exceeded his trading authority. These tickets indicated falsely that Nussbaum was complying with the firm’s limitations. The firm engaged in proprietary trading, so it was required to maintain a minimum net capital of $100,000. Nussbaum allegedly opened and left open on a particular date, which then caused the firm’s capital position to fall below its required minimum on that day. FINRA’s findings stated that as a result on that day, the firm conducted a securities business while it was net-capital deficient.
(FINRA Case #2013038444702)

According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck, Gregg N. Nussbaum was previously registered with the following FINRA firm(s):

GILFORD SECURITIES INCORPORATED (CRD# 8076) – FT. LAUDERDALE, FL
04/2012 – 08/2013

NATIONAL SECURITIES CORPORATION (CRD# 7569) – BOCA RATON, FL
01/2012 – 03/2012

FIRST INTEGRITY CAPITAL PARTNERS CORP. (CRD# 146049) – WEST PALM BEACH, FL
02/2011 – 11/2011

KILEY PARTNERS, INC. (CRD# 37814) – PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL
09/2010 – 12/2010

STERNE AGEE FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. (CRD# 18456) – BOCA RATON, FL
07/2010 – 09/2010

JESUP & LAMONT SECURITIES CORP (CRD# 39056) – BOCA RATON, FL
FINRA expelled the firm in 11/2010 07/2009 – 02/2010

SETON SECURITIES GROUP, INC. (CRD# 18044) – NEW YORK, NY
05/2009 – 08/2009

FIRST AMERICAN CAPITAL AND TRADING CORPORATION (CRD# 118812) – BOCA RATON, FL
03/2007 – 06/2007

NEWBRIDGE SECURITIES CORPORATION (CRD# 104065) – FT. LAUDERDALE, FL
12/2006 – 01/2007

CAPITAL GROWTH FINANCIAL, LLC (CRD# 41040) – BOCA RATON, FL
FINRA expelled the firm in 07/2008 12/2005 – 11/2006

SKY CAPITAL LLC (CRD# 114657) – BOCA RATON, FL
FINRA expelled the firm in 04/2009 07/2004 – 01/2006

S.W. BACH & COMPANY (CRD# 43522) – PORT WASHINGTON, NY
06/2004 – 06/2004

This ends the information from FINRA’s website.

Fort Lauderdale-based Soreide Law Group, represents clients nationwide. If you sustained a loss because of your broker/financial advisor’s recommendation, call a Securities Arbitration Lawyer for a free consultation on how to potentially recover your losses. To speak with an attorney, call 888-760-6552.

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Apr/14

18

Pennsylvania Financial Advisor Accused of Stealing $180K From a 97 Year-Old Woman

David E.A. Seagren, 69, Franklin, PA, was arraigned April 14, 2014, on more than 50 felony charges. Seagren is accused of 22 counts of theft by deception and theft by unlawful taking, plus seven counts of forgery for the alleged theft of $183,786.86 from a 97-year-old woman’s checking accounts. This happened over three years while Seagren was the woman’s financial advisor and insurance agent.

The woman told police that David Seagren has been her financial advisor for 30 years and she had never given Seagren permission to sign anything. She also told police that she never agreed to pay any money to Seagren.

According to the affidavit, on review of her banking records by detectives, they found that Seagren allegedly deposited into his own bank account checks from the woman’s two bank accounts totaling $51,786.86. Police allege these actions occurred between February 2011 and December 2013. Police allege that Seagren took $146,150 from one of the woman’s checking account and $37,636.86 from another one of her checking accounts.

David Seagren was placed in the Crawford County Jail in Saegertown, PA. His preliminary hearing will be on April 28th.

According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck, DAVID E. SEAGREN CRD# 1180218, was previously listed with the following firms:

FORTUNE FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. (CRD# 42150) – RENO, PA
01/2006 – 01/2014

FINANCIAL NETWORK INVESTMENT CORPORATION (CRD# 13572) – RENO, PA
10/2005 – 12/2005

BLUE VASE SECURITIES, LLC (CRD# 46765) – RENO, PA
10/2001 – 10/2005

1717 CAPITAL MANAGEMENT COMPANY (CRD# 4082) – NEWARK, DE
11/1997 – 10/2001

PRUCO SECURITIES CORPORATION (CRD# 5685) – NEWARK, NJ
09/1984 – 12/1997

If you or an elderly family member have suffered an investment loss due to your stock broker or financial advisor’s advice, call Soreide Law Group to speak with an attorney at 888-760-6552. We represent clients nationwide before FINRA.

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Apr/14

17

Puerto Rican Bond Losses Cost Puerto Rican Boxer Over $60 Million

Félix “Tito” Trinidad, a Puerto Rican boxing legend, is being pursued by creditors while he files a claim against the financial advisor who invested more than $60 million of his money in Puerto Rican government bonds. Felix Trinidad has filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) claiming that his financial advisor, José “Pepe” Ramos, made the risky bond investments without his knowledge or consent. Ramos had denied any wrongdoing.

Ramos had denied any wrongdoing. He has been financial advisor to Trinidad since 2000. Ramos has been employed by many financial firms, Wells Fargo Advisors, UBS and Popular Securities. In the FINRA filing, Trinidad states that the majority of his losses were between 2000 and 2007, when Ramos began working with UBS Financial.

(Please see our many blog posting on UBS and Puerto Rican Bonds, and also http://securitieslawyer.com/ubspuertoricofundloss.html)

The FINRA claim states that Ramos put nearly all of Trinidad’s money into various portfolios filled with Puerto Rico’s bonds, which have taken a huge loss because of Puerto Rico’s fiscal and economic crisis. Many investors who suffered losses on investments in UBS Puerto Rico, claim they felt pushed into this risky investment.

FINRA said that more than 160 cases tied to Puerto Rico bond funds have already been filed by investors, and it could easily go as high as 500.

Many Florida based attorneys, including Lars Soreide of Soreide Law Group, are working for investors and filing claims with FINRA for their clients. In an article titled, “UBS FACING LEGAL FIGHT OVER PUERTO RICO BOND FUNDS GONE SOUTH” by Bruce Kelly, of InvestmentNews, from October 3rd, 2013. Securities attorney, Lars Soreide, of Soreide Law Group, PLLC, is quoted on the filing of a FINRA arbitration over the sale of UBS Puerto Rican Bonds:

“One plaintiff’s attorney, Lars Soreide, said he filed a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. complaint against UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico last week on behalf of a 70-year-old retiree whose portfolio of $500,000 was invested entirely in proprietary closed-end funds, along with individual municipal securities contained inside the funds she already owned.

She opened a line of credit with UBS that “she used to buy her home, and is now selling the portfolio to cover the equity line she took out,” said Mr. Soreide. “She relied on the income [from the municipal holdings] to pay for retirement, and UBS has been liquidating the holdings to pay interest on margin loans.”

If you purchased Puerto Rico bonds and suffered losses, please call (888) 760-6552 for a free consultation on how to recover your investment. Soreide Law Group is currently representing investors nationally and internationally.

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Apr/14

16

FINRA Alleges Annuity Scheme by Two Former MetLife Brokers

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) filed a regulatory complaint against two former brokers from MetLife Securities Inc, (a unit of MetLife Inc). The brokers, Christopher Birli and Patrick Chapin, who both worked for MetLife in Williamsville, New York, until 2012, allegedly engaged in a seven-year scheme to inflate their commissions by having customers switch $21 million in annuities. FINRA alleged in their March 27th. complaint that Birli and Chapin allegedly focused primarily on advising employees of the State University of New York who participated in its retirement plan. According to FIRNA, their scheme generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions. This alleged scheme subjected investors to unnecessary risks.

FINRA alleges that the two MetLife brokers, between 2004 and 2007, recommended 45 of customers switch MetLife variable annuities which were held in their retirement accounts to new variable annuities held in individual retirement accounts (IRAs) outside the university plan.

According to FINRA’s complaint, Birli and Chapin structured the deals in a way to circumvent a MetLife policy that generally prohibited exchanging the two types of variable annuities in the transactions. The brokers advised clients to first cash in their retirement plan annuities and buy another security within the plan to hold for 90 days. Clients would then sell that security to buy a variable annuity through an IRA. The new annuity could tie up the investors’ funds for as much as seven years and also some clients had to pay fees to cash in their initial annuities.

According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck,
Christopher Birli was previously registered with the following FINRA firm(s):

METLIFE SECURITIES INC. (CRD# 14251) – WILLIAMSVILLE, NY
03/2001 – 04/2012

METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY (CRD# 4095) – WILLIAMSVILLE, NY
03/2001 – 07/2007

Patrick Chapin was previously registered with the following FINRA firm(s):

METLIFE SECURITIES INC. (CRD# 14251) – WILLIAMSVILLE, NY
01/2001 – 04/2012

METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY (CRD# 4095) – WILLIAMSVILLE, NY
01/2001 – 07/2007

NATHAN & LEWIS SECURITIES, INC. (CRD# 8503) – NEW YORK, NY
05/1993 – 02/2001

AETNA INVESTMENT SERVICES, LLC (CRD# 34815) – WINDSOR, CT
10/1993 – 01/2001

AETNA LIFE INSURANCE AND ANNUITY COMPANY (CRD# 13256) – HARTFORD, CT
08/1993 – 10/1993

COPELAND EQUITIES, INC. (CRD# 7447) – SOMERSET, NJ
09/1991 – 11/1992

GUARDIAN INVESTOR SERVICES CORPORATION (CRD# 6635) – NEW YORK, NY
05/1991 – 09/1991

This ends FINRA’s information.

If you or a loved one have experienced investment losses due to your stock broker/financial advisor’s recommendations of annuities, call Soreide Law Group for a free consultation with an attorney on how to potentially recover your losses: 888-760-6552.

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Apr/14

16

New York Broker Barred by FINRA for Misappropriation of Clients’ Funds

Registered Representative, John Cherry III, New York, NY CRD # 1891720, has been barred by FINRA and ordered to pay $174,000, plus prejudgment interest, in restitution to customers, plus $300,000 in disgorgement.

Allegedly, Cherry converted funds from his member firm customers for his own personal use without the customers’ authorization.

FINRA’s findings stated that allegedly Cherry deposited the funds in his family owned business and used the money to purchase a home. These were customers’ funds intended for investing in securities. Cherry hid from his customers what he had done with their money and made it appear that they were earning returns on securities investments. Cherry occasionally made payments in different amounts from his own personal bank account and business accounts to the customers. Cherry eventually stopped making payments, and he gave the customers excuses for ending the payments. Cherry made it appear that the money was locked into a third-party investment out of his control.

FINRA’s decision was appealed to the NAC and the sanctions are not in effect pending the review.
FINRA Case #2011026935101

John Cherry III, according to FINRA’s BrokerCheck was previously registered with the following FINRA firm:

WORLD GROUP SECURITIES, INC. (CRD# 114473) – NEW YORK, NY
04/2005 – 04/2011

This ends FINRA’s information.

Soreide Law Group represents clients nationwide in arbitrations before FINRA. For your free consultation on how to potentially recover investment losses call: 888-760-6552.

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Apr/14

16

New York Rep FINRA Complaint Alleges Converting Funds from Two Elderly Clients

Registered Representative, ANTHONY C. LAZARUS (CRD# 5713015) South Ozone Park, New York, had a FINRA complaint filed against him alleging that he converted approx. $27,000 from two elderly customers of his firm’s affiliated bank.

FINRA’s complaint alleges that Lazarus accessed one of the customer’s bank account and charged on-line payments to be made from that account to his personal credit card account. This elderly customer did not know of or authorize these payments. Also, Lazarus had a debit card issued from the customer’s accounts at the bank without the client’s knowledge or consent. Lazarus then made unauthorized ATM withdrawals of cash from the elderly customer’s accounts. Lazarus also made unauthorized over-the-counter cash withdrawals from the elderly customer’s accounts.

According to FINRA’s report, Lazarus made unauthorized funds transfers from the second elderly customer’s savings account at the bank to her checking account. The customer did not know of or authorize these payments.

Anthony Clive Lazarus was previously registered with the following FINRA firm(s):

CHASE INVESTMENT SERVICES CORP. (CRD# 25574) – SPRINGFIELD GARDENS, NY
10/2009 – 01/2012

This ends the information from FINRA.

If you feel someone you know has been taken advantage of by their broker or financial advisor, call Soreide Law Group and speak to an attorney at no cost: 888-760-6552.

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