FINRA Bars Broker Eric Hollifield Barred After Client Funds Misappropriation
Eric Hollifield (Eric Shea Hollifield CRD:# 3091319) is a former registered broker and investment advisor whose last employer was LPL Financial LLC (CRD#:6413) of Dacula, GA. Hollifield was previously registered with Sterne Agee Financial Services, Inc. (CRD#:18456), also of Dacula, H&R Block Financial Advisors, Inc. (CRD#:5979) of Duluth, GA, and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (CRD#:7691) of New York, NY. He has been in the industry since 1998.
On 8/25/2021, a customer filed a dispute alleging that Hollifield misappropriated funds from her account beginning in August 2020, through the present date. This claim is pending, and the client requests damages of $1,240,000.00.
As a result, LPL Financial notified FINRA on 9/10/2021 when the firm filed a Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration (Form U5) terminating Hollifield’s association with the firm. LPL Financial officially discharged Hollifield on 8/12/2021, listing the reason as failing to disclose his outside business activities.
Hamilton Investment Counsel, LLC listed its own discharge of employment on 9/1/2021, citing the same reason of failure to disclose outside business activities to the firm. No information is available from Hollifield’s brief association with Hamilton.
After receiving the Form U5 from LPL Financial on 9/10/2021, FINRA began an investigation into the allegations of misappropriation of funds from the account of an elderly customer. FINRA requested documents and information related to the investigation on 9/21/2021, due by 10/05/2021. They also requested that Hollifield give on-the-record testimony, scheduled for 9/30/2021.
Hollifield acknowledged receipt of these requests in a phone call and email with FINRA staffers on 9/27/2021 and 9/29/2021. However, he indicated that he would not provide any information or documents nor appear for on-the-record testimony at any time. Hollifield’s refusal to assist FINRA in their investigation led to sanctioning by the agency. In his case, Hollifield is indefinitely barred from any affiliation or association with a FINRA member in any capacity beginning 10/7/2021.
Hollifield voluntarily signed a letter of Acceptance, Waiver & Consent (AWC) agreeing to the sanctions on 9/29/2021, which were made final with the signature of FINRA’s counsel on 10/07/2021.
The AWC Letter
We frequently highlight someone in the securities industry that has been found to engage in wrongdoing. Many of these individuals sign a letter of Acceptance, Waiver & Consent (AWC). If you read our blogs, you know that frequently, many of these individuals sign one. But you may not know exactly what this means.
Signing an AWC is like a person facing criminal charges pleading “Nolo contendere” or “no contest.” In other words, the individual accepts the findings of the FINRA investigation, does not admit or deny any wrongdoing, and accepts all sanctions imposed on them.
When someone signs the AWC letter, they waive their right to having a hearing as well as to an appeal. In return, they accept the findings and the accompanying penalties included in the letter.
In Hollifield’s case, he became barred from the industry when he and FINRA’s legal counsel signed the letter, accepting all the included terms.
Once signed, the “defendant” cannot take any further action, make any public statements, directly or indirectly denying any of the included allegations that may give the impression that the information in the AWC has no factual basis.
FINRA concedes that it will not bring any additional actions or allegations in the future against the “defendant” based on the same facts and findings. However, if one of the facts changes, FINRA can bring additional actions against the individual.
Did You Invest With Eric Hollifield?
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