FINRA recently barred four brokers after they were individually found to have engaged in elder financial abuse. All four have been barred indefinitely after separate FINRA disciplinary actions. All four have signed Acceptance, Waiver & Consent (AWC) letters after the hearings to settle the claims. They are no longer working for or affiliated with a FINRA broker dealer, by order of the hearing officers in each case.
Misappropriation of Client Funds – David Wells, CRD#: 6774493
This broker has two additional names listed in Brokercheck:
- David Sheldon Wells
- David Wells
He has been in the industry since 2017 and has worked for two broker dealers:
- Fifth Third Securities, Inc. (CRD#:628) Of Chicago, IL
- Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (CRD#:7691) of Chicago, IL
On 06/03/2021, Fifth Third Securities allowed Wells to resign after allegations surfaced that he misappropriated client funds from three of his clients.
In a subsequent. FINRA disciplinary investigation, staff contacted Wells requesting documents and information related to the allegations as well as put him on notice to appear for on-the-record testimony. On August 24th, 2021, Wells failed to appear at a scheduled hearing. FINRA then sent a second request for testimony as well production of documents. On August 31st, 2021, Wells failed to appear for this second hearing as well as failed to provide requested documents. On September 3rd, 2021. In an email, Wells notified FINRA that he would not be cooperating with the investigation.
As a result, which consisted solely of a bar from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. No fines were levied, and there was no indication that Wells could return to being registered with FINRA in the future.
Misappropriated Trust Funds – William Michero, CRD#: 4617645
This broker has three additional names listed in Brokercheck:
- Jeff Michero
- William Jeffrey Michero
- William Michero
Michero has been in the industry since 2003, and was last registered with Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. (CRD#:39543) of Fort Worth, TX. Previously, he was registered with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (CRD#:7691) of Arlington, TX, Banc Of America Investment Services, Inc. (CRD#:16361) of Dallas, TX, and 1st Global Capital Corp. (CRD#:30349), also of Dallas.
Cambridge terminated Michero on August 25th, 2021. The firm also filed a uniform termination notice. For securities industry regulation (Form U5) indicating that Michero was terminated. Because he had “misappropriated trust funds through his outside activity as a trustee.”
From April 2018 through. February 2021, Michero began serving as a trustee for 4 accounts owned by a senior beneficiary through a different FINRA member firm and 2 additional financial institutions. Michero notified Cambridge of this outside business activity (OBA) in May of 2018. However, during this period, Michero allegedly misappropriated a sum of at least $263,286.40 from various trust accounts into his own accounts, using the funds for personal use.
Following an investigation, FINRA then permanently barred Michero from any association with a FINRA broker dealer in all capacities effective 9/10/2021.
Four months prior to his discharge from Cambridge, on April 28th, 2021, a tax lien for approximately $56,905.37 was levied against Michero No additional information is available on this tax lien.
Conversion of Elderly Customer Funds – Ronald Daley, CRD#: 4682165
Daley has been a registered broker since 2009 with W&S Brokerage
Services Inc (CRD#: 8099) of West Chester, OH.
On May 12, 2021. W&S Brokerage Services received a complaint from an elderly customer through her power of attorney. The complaint alleged that a conversion of funds that were withdrawn from her life insurance and fixed annuities between September 2015 and February 2020 by Daley in the amount of $500,000. This customer dispute is currently pending.
Subsequently, W&S Brokerage Services discharged Daley after the firm discovered that he violated firm policies by failing to meet the reporting requirements under the firm’s policies. Additionally, the currently pending claim from the elderly customer regarding misappropriation of funds is still under review. The firm terminated Daley on 8/2/2021.
Following his discharge, FINRA began an investigation into the alleged conversion of funds from elderly customers. FINRA staff sent requests to Daley for on the record testimony. As well as a request for documents and information pursuant to the claim in a phone call with FINRA staff on September 2nd, 2021. Daley acknowledged receipt of FINRA’s requests but stated that he would not appear for on-the-record testimony, nor produce any documents and information requested at any time. Because of his refusal to cooperate, FINRA then indefinitely barred Daley from association with any FINRA member as of 9/10/2021.
Daley also had a previous customer dispute in 2019. The client alleged that he was not properly informed inn regard to a feature pertaining to a financial product when it was sold in September of 2017. The client claims that he was informed that an RMD or “required minimal distribution” would not negate a 7% roll up to the client’s contract benefit base. However. in the second and third year, the contract did not receive the rollup because the client took an RMD. The client requested damages for $78,762.00 and received a settlement of $76,108.76.
Borrowing Funds From Customers – Courtney Kaplan CRD#: 5249375
This broker has five additional names listed in Brokercheck:
- Courtney Michelle Carlsen
- Courtney M Ingram
- Courtney Michelle Ingram
- Courtney Ingram Yarmesch
- Courtney Michelle Yarmesch
Kaplan has been in the industry since 2007, and was last employed with LPL Financial LLC, (CRD#: 6403) of Palm Harbor, FL. Her previous employers include Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, CRD 19616, of Tampa, FL, Cetera Investment Services, (CRD#:15340) of Newport Richey, Florida, and Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC (CRD#: 19616) of Ellenton, Florida.
Kaplan Was registered with Wells Fargo from July 2017 through March 2019. Wells Fargo filed a Form U5 amendment on May 19th, 2021, regarding her termination. The firm conducted an internal review when a former client’s daughter alleged that she, Kaplan, borrowed money from her father. Kaplan, along with her husband, became beneficiaries in the client’s father’s will. By this time, Kaplan had left Wells Fargo and became broker and an investment advisor with LPL Financial.
FINRA staff sent two requests to Kaplan for documents and information related to the allegations in Wells Fargo’s amendment of their Form U5. Kaplan missed both deadlines, responding to FINRA by letter, phone call, and email. In her communications, Kaplan acknowledged the receipt of FINRA’s requests, but indicated that she would not produce any requested information or documents at any time. Considering this refusal, FINRA indefinitely barred Kaplan from association with any FINRA member, in any capacity, effective 9/30/2021.
This entry is the only disclosure on Kaplan’s record since she began in the industry in 2007.
Elder Financial Abuse – Abuse of Customer Funds
All four of these brokers have one thing in common: they committed financial fraud against elderly clients. The term for this type of fraud is elderly financial abuse, the fastest growing and most common form of elder abuse. Whether its called misappropriation, borrowing, theft or conversion, stockbrokers and other financial advisors are not supposed to take their customer’s funds. However, our investment fraud attorneys are seeing an increase in these cases by financial advisors improperly doing business with senior customers. In many circumstances, we are working with trust and estate counsel to help recover money for an estate.
While there are many forms of financial abuse of an elderly person, abuse or fraud by a broker or other financial representative can be particularly difficult to uncover or rectify. Many take advantage of an elderly person because they know the victim doesn’t understand what they’re signing. Sometimes the fraud isn’t discovered until after the individual passes away, when it becomes obvious that the deceased was deceived by their financial representative.
That’s why it’s important to monitor your own financial accounts and statements, or those of an elderly loved one who may not understand everything, or unable to adequately handle their finances.
Elder Financial Fraud Attorneys
Silver Law Group represents investors in securities and investment fraud cases. Our lawyers are admitted to practice in New York and Florida and represent investors nationwide to help recover investment losses due to stockbroker misconduct. Our Florida elder fraud attorneys can meet with you in your home and we work closely with family or other trusted advisors to help maximize your recovery. If you have any questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney. Most cases are handled on a contingent fee basis, meaning that you won’t owe us until we recover your money for you. Contact us today at (800) 975-4345 and let us know how we can help.