Category Archives: Securities Regulators

Florida Certified Financial Planners Disciplined by CFP Board- September 2020 Update

September 2020

According to their website, the “Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board is a non-profit organization acting in the public interest by fostering professional standards in personal financial planning through its setting and enforcement of the education, examination, experience, ethics and other requirements for CFP. “

The CFP Board can discipline those holding the CFP title in one of three ways:

  • Public Letter of Admonition
  • Temporary Suspension of CFP certification
  • Revocation of individual’s CFP certification

In November 2020 the CFP announced sanctions against a number of Texas  financial advisors, including the following:

PUBLIC LETTERS OF ADMONITION

Nicholas P. Krsnich (West Palm Beach): In September 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Krsnich entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Krsnich agreed that CFP Board would issue a Letter of Admonition. In the settlement agreement, Mr. Krsnich consented to findings that he failed to exercise reasonable and prudent judgment in providing professional services when he engaged in investment advisory business in the State of Florida without proper registration. Mr. Krsnich also consented to a finding that the Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFC) found in a 2013 Stipulation and Consent Agreement (SCA) that his conduct with respect to the transactions violated Section 517.12(4) of the Florida Statutes. In the SCA, Mr. Krsnich consented to a finding that his firm, of which he is an officer and a co-owner, failed to establish, maintain, and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance by the investment adviser with Chapter 517 of the Florida Statues and Division 69W of the Florida Administrative Code. As part of the SCA, Mr. Krsnich and his firm also consented to fines for $10,000 in 2013 and $6,000 in 2018. Pursuant to the CFP Board settlement agreement, Mr. Krsnich consented to findings that his conduct violated Rules 4.3 and 4.4 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a) and 3(g) the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Krsnich a Letter of Admonition.

ADMINISTRATIVE REVOCATIONS

Anthony Cottone (Delray Beach): In March 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Cottone’s right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Cottone’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Cottone failed to respond to CFP Board’s requests for documents and information. In July 2019, CFP Board imposed an automatic interim suspension against Mr. Cottone after receiving evidence that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued an Order permanently barring Mr. Cottone from associating with any FINRA member in all capacities on December 10, 2018, based on its finding that Mr. Cottone “failed to respond to FINRA request[s] for information.” CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Cottone’s failure to respond to two separate Requests for Additional Information from the CFP Board provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(F) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Cottone declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Cottone’s revocation was effective as of April 1, 2020.

Jim Nguyen (St. Petersburg): In June 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Nguyen’s right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Nguyen’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Nguyen failed to respond to a Notice of Investigation (NOI) CFP Board mailed to him on November 15, 2019. CFP Board was investigating a tax lien reported by Mr. Nguyen. On December 20, 2019, CFP Board issued a second NOI via certified mail. CFP Board also emailed both NOIs to Mr. Nguyen as a courtesy on January 15, 2020. Mr. Nguyen failed to respond to each NOI. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Nguyen’s conduct violated Article 3(F) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules), providing grounds for discipline for failing to respond to a NOI issued by CFP Board. Mr. Nguyen failed to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Nguyen’s revocation was effective as of June 15, 2020.

Edward Santos (Pembroke Pines): In March 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Santos’ right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Santos’ failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Santos falsely self-reported to CFP Board that he had completed 40 Continuing Education (CE) courses, totaling 92 CE credit hours during three reporting periods covering August 1, 2014 to July 2020. Respondent’s misconduct included communicating false information that misled CFP Board, clients, prospective clients, and the public into thinking that Respondent had satisfied the requirements for maintaining his CFP® certification when he had not. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Santos’ conduct violated 2.1, 6.2, and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a) and 3(g) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Santos declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Santos’ revocation was effective as of April 1, 2020.

To verify an individual broker’s current certification status visit the CFP website here.

If you have questions about losses, unauthorized trading or unsuitable investments in your stock brokerage account, contact us for a no charge consultation.

Rex Securities Law , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney.

Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

Nationwide Representation

Rex Securities Law

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Texas Certified Financial Planners Disciplined by CFP Board- November 2020 Update

November 2020

According to their website, the “Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board is a non-profit organization acting in the public interest by fostering professional standards in personal financial planning through its setting and enforcement of the education, examination, experience, ethics and other requirements for CFP. “

The CFP Board can discipline those holding the CFP title in one of three ways:

  • Public Letter of Admonition
  • Temporary Suspension of CFP certification
  • Revocation of individual’s CFP certification

In November 2020 the CFP announced sanctions against a number of Texas  financial advisors, including the following:

PUBLIC CENSURES

Mohammed Awadalla (Austin, Texas): In August 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Awadalla received a Public Censure. The Commission issued its order after determining that Mr. Awadalla obtained reimbursement for a 2016 computer purchase to which he was not entitled pursuant to his firm’s computer equipment purchase assistance program, and that he was permitted to resign from his firm in January 2018 for this conduct. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) found in an August 2019 Cautionary Action Letter that Mr. Awadalla’s conduct with respect to the computer reimbursement violated FINRA Rule 2010, which states that “every member…shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.” The Commission determined that Mr. Awadalla’s conduct violated Rules 5.1 and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Awadalla a Public Censure. Mr. Awadalla relinquished his CFP® certification in July 2018.

Adam Frey, CFP® (San Antonio, Texas): In September 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Frey entered into a consent order pursuant to which Mr. Frey received a Public Censure. In the consent order, Mr. Frey agreed to findings that, in 2018, Mr. Frey was terminated from his firm after the firm determined that Mr. Frey violated its document signature policy when he signed incomplete draft documents on behalf of a client. The firm stated that the draft documents were never submitted for processing and that there were no customer complaints arising from Mr. Frey’s conduct. Mr. Frey also consented to findings that, after investigating his conduct, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA), found that Mr. Frey’s conduct violated FINRA Rule 2010 and issued a Cautionary Action Letter to Mr. Frey. Mr. Frey consented to CFP Board’s findings that his conduct violated Rules 4.3, 5.1, and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission censured Mr. Frey with regard to the above-mentioned conduct.

ADMINISTRATIVE REVOCATION

Cecil Ross (San Angelo, Texas): In September 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Ross’ right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Ross’ intentional decision not to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Ross failed to disclose to CFP Board his suspension by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) within the required 30-day timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint also alleged that, according to FINRA’s findings, Mr. Ross engaged in an unsuitable pattern of trading in unit investment trusts in 287 customer accounts by selling these investments before their maturity dates, thereby causing his customers to incur unnecessary excess sales charges. Additionally, CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Ross’ conduct violated Rules 1.4, 4.3. 4.5, and 6.2 of CFP Board’s Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for sanction. Mr. Ross declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 30 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 3.2 of the Procedural Rules, effective June 30, 2020. In accordance with Article 3.2.a. of the Procedural Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Ross’ revocation was effective as of October 25, 2020.

To verify an individual broker’s current certification status visit the CFP website here.

If you have questions about losses, unauthorized trading or unsuitable investments in your stock brokerage account, contact us for a no charge consultation.

Rex Securities Law , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney.

Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

Nationwide Representation

Rex Securities Law

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Kurt Gunter-Former Stifel Nicolaus Broker-Sanctioned Over UIT Sales-Austin, TX

November 2020- Austin, TX 

According to his FINRA record  Kurt Jason Gunter a financial advisor currently employed by Wells Fargo Clearing Services has recently been sanctioned by FINRA for unsuitable sales of unit investment trusts (UITs).

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the agency that licenses and regulates stockbrokers and brokerage firms. FINRA requires brokers and brokerage firms to report customer complaints and disputes as well as regulatory sanctions. In addition brokers are required to disclose certain financial matters such as personal bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

In November 2020 Gunter, without admitting or denying the findings, agreed to a three month suspension and a fine of $10,000 to resolve FINRA’s allegations that from July 2013-December 2016 he engaged in an unsuitable pattern of short-term trading of UITs in customer accounts at Stifel Nicolaus.

In addition, FINRA found that Gunter signed switch letters that were sent to customers that contained inaccurate or missing information about the costs they were incurring as a result of early rollovers of UITs.

Unit Investment Trusts are designed to be long term investments and short term trading is generally improper. According to FINRA findings, Gunter recommended that his customers roll over UITs more than 100 days prior to maturity on more than 270 occasions. As a result customers incurred unnecessary sales charges and the recommendation was unsuitable in view of the frequency and cost of the transaction.

On average, according to FINRA, the switch letters that contained inaccurate information understated the sales charges incurred by customers by about $2,500.

Kurt Gunter was employed by Stifel Nicolaus from 6/2013-8/2017. Since 8/2017 he has been employed by Wells Fargo Clearing Services in Bee Cave, TX.

If you had an account with Kurt Gunter that suffered losses, or if you were a victim of his short term UIT switching  scheme,  you may be entitled to collect damages from his prior employer.

Call for a no charge consultation with an experienced securities attorney.

Rex Securities Law , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney.

Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

Nationwide Representation

Rex Securities Law

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Texas-512-329-2870

Bradley Mascho-Former Western International Securities Broker- Charged with Securities Fraud- Frederick, MD

November 2019 – Frederick, MD

The FINRA records of Bradley Mascho  , a currently unregistered stockbroker who was last employed by  Western International Securities, discloses 2 regulatory events , a criminal event, a civil event, 9 pending customer disputes, 5 prior customer disputes and a termination from employment.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the agency that licenses and regulates stockbrokers and brokerage firms. FINRA requires brokers and brokerage firms to report customer complaints and disputes as well as regulatory sanctions. In addition brokers are required to disclose certain financial matters such as personal bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

In 1/2018, FINRA  permanently barred Mascho after he refused to appear for a FINRA-requested on- the -record testimony during an investigation into his potential serious violations, including fraud, undisclosed outside business activities, and private securities transactions.

In 12/2017, United States Securities and Exchange Commission filed case 8:17cv2453 alleging violations of Section 5(a) and (c), Section 17(a) of Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) and 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.   Sanctions sought are Civil and Administrative Penalties/Fines, Disgorgement, monetary penalty other than fines and injunction.   This case is pending.

In 11/2017 Mascho was charged with a felony count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, one felony count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of Securities Fraud; aiding and abetting,   Charges are currently pending in the US DIstrict Court of Maryland.

In 12/2017 the SEC charged Mascho and his company DJB Holdings with fraud in connection with raising over $20 million through the sale of convertible and promissory notes in the company.

From 3/2015 until  4/2019, 5 customer disputes were filed by customers of Western International Securities, Inc.,  alleging unsuitable recommendations, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.  These cases were settled in the cumulative amount of nearly $500,000

The following cases , filed by customers of Western International, are still pending.

  1. Case #19-00748 alleging damages of $427,538.
  2. Case #19-00977 alleging  damages of $100,000.
  3. Case #19-00517 alleging damages of $2,444,388.
  4. Case #18-03902 alleging damages of $500,000.
  5. Case #18-03888 alleging damages of $200,000.
  6. Case #18-03080 alleging damages of $353,000.
  7. Case #18-03958 alleging damages of $150,000.
  8. Case #18-03941 alleging damages of $250,000.
  9. Case #18-00968 alleging damages of $5,000.

Mascho worked for Western International Securities  from 10/2009-12/2017.

Prior to that Mascho was employed by Royal Alliance Associates, Inc., Legg Mason Wood Walker, and  American Express Financial Advisors.  

If you have questions about an account  handled by Bradley Mascho  call for a no charge consultation .

Rex Securities Law , with offices in Boca Raton, FL,  and  Austin, TX,   provides representation to  investors  nationwide who are seeking recovery of investment losses due to the negligence or fraud of stockbrokers and broker dealers. If you have questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney.

Most cases handled on a contingent fee basis meaning that you do not pay legal fees unless we are successful.

International Representation

Rex Securities Law

TollFree: 877-224-3199

Florida-561 391 1900 

Texas-512-329-2870