Articles Posted in Disciplinary Actions

Ronald Roach a broker with Securities America Barred over DC Solar transactions.

Ronald Roach, a registered representative from Walnut Creek, California, formerly with Securities America, was barred from association with any broker dealer or registered investment advisor by the SEC after pleading guilty to wire fraud and securities fraud charges related to DC Solar.  The Court accepted his guilty plea on October 22, 2019.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 28, 2020 and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison as a result of a scam involving the sale and lease back of mobile solar electrical generators.

DC Solar, the company with which Roach and Joseph Bayliss were affiliated, solicited investors by stressing the tax benefits available from solar energy investments.  In addition to being a broker and an investment advisor, Roach prepared financial statements for DC Solar which the prosecutors argued improperly stated the returns being generated for investors on the DC Solar transactions.

Michael Tanha suspended by FINRA

Michael Tanha, a registered representative from Beverly Hills, California, formerly with Merrill Lynch, was suspended from FINRA membership for 10 months and fined $15,000 as a result of an investigation into his participation in outside business activated without obtaining the prior written approval of his member firm. The findings, contained in an acceptance waiver and consent agreement with FINRA state that Tanah engaged in private securities transactions by soliciting an investment from a firm client into a company that Tanha controlled. Among the outside businesses  that Tanha disclosed to Merrill Lynch are Boulevard Family Wealth and Boulevard Insurance Strategies, both of Beverly Hills, CA.  The suspension runs from May, 2019 through March, 2020

Michael Tanha’s registration and disciplinary history

Thomas Laws of Silver City, New Mexico charged by the SEC and Barred by FINRA

Thomas Laws, a registered representative from Silver City, New Mexico, formerly with HD Vest Investment Services, was barred from FINRA membership as a result of an SEC investigation into alleged misconduct in his handling of investor funds.  The Commission alleged that from 2016 through 2018, a business Laws controlled transferred  over one million dollars of investors’ funds to purchase a silver mine, acquire mining claims, purchase mining equipment, and for other corporate related activity.  The complaint alleges that instead of using the funds for corporate purposes, Laws misappropriated them and attempted to hide the theft by forging vendor invoices, bank records and signatures.

Laws then filed and certified periodic reports with the SEC, which the Commission alleges were materially false and misleading. As a result of this conduct Laws was arrested by the FBI at his office in New Mexico in August, 2019 and charged with three felonies related to the alleged theft.

Gurpreet Chandhoke and Stephen Shea Sued by FINRA

In a complaint filed by FINRA, and reported in October, 2019 Gurpreet Chandhoke and Stephen Shea, of Walnut Creek, California were named as Respondents alleging that they failed to disclose outside business activities and engaged in private securities transactions in violation of FINRA rules.  .

The complaint alleges that Chandhoke and Shea created securities offering materials and gave them to prospective investors in order to solicit their interest in investments.  At least three companies were created by Chandhoke for the means of engaging in securities transactions without disclosing the full extent of the outside business to his broker dealer.  Also in violation of FINRA rules, Chandhoke and Shea opened accounts at other broker dealers and failed to disclose these accounts to the member firms.  The complaint further alleges that Chandhoke and Shea engaged in nearly ten million dollars of private securities transactions without providing written notice of those transactions to their firms prior to the sales.

Jon VanSlooten, a registered representative from Toledo, Ohio, formerly with Edward Jones, was suspended from FINRA membership as a result of an investigation into his discretionary trading without the consent of his customers or firm. VanSlooten entered into an acceptance, waiver and consent agreement with FINRA in which he neither admitted nor denied the findings, but agreed to a suspension of three months and a fine of $7,500.

In June 2017, Jon VanSlooten agreed to the suspension and FINRA published its findings that he participated in discretionary trading without telling his customers. Discretionary trading occurs when a broker is permitted to sell securities and investments on his or her own with the agreement of the client. The broker is essentially given control and discretion over when, where and in what amounts the transactiosn will be made.

VanSlooten made nearly 600 trades for four of his customers without gaining their consent or telling his firm. Edward Jones’ Written Supervisory Procedures do not allow discretionary trading and because of this, he was fined and suspended by FINRA.

John Piccarreto, a registered representative from San Antonio, Texas, formerly with First American Securities, was suspended from FINRA membership as a result of an investigation into his private business transactions and dealings with another company other than his firm, which is a violation of FINRA rules. Piccarreto entered into an acceptance waiver and consent agreement with FINRA in which he neither admitted nor denied the findings, but agreed to a suspension of 24 months and a fine of $15,000. He also must reregister as a representative after passing the required examination.

In June 2017, John Piccarreto agreed to the suspension and FINRA published its findings that he took part in multiple private securities dealings in which he offered investments to some of his clients without reporting the transactions to his firm. He received $500 per week from a different company for his private work with investments.

FINRA also discovered that he was not candid on the record during an investigation into his work on the private offerings. He said that he did not have any knowledge of any type of outside dealings, and knew nothing about the offerings.  This was later found to be untrue, as he was closely involved with multiple private transactions.

Jeffrey Noard, a registered representative from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, formerly with Allied Beacon Partners, was suspended from FINRA membership as a result of an investigation into unsuitable recommendations made to an elderly client who purchased debentures. Noard entered into an acceptance waiver and consent agreement with FINRA in which he neither admitted nor denied the findings, but agreed to a fine of $2,500 and a suspension of ten business days.

In June 2017, Jeffrey Noard agreed to the suspension, and FINRA published its findings that Noard violated FINRA’s suitability rules which state that a broker must have a reasonable basis and belief that their customer is able to bare the risk of loss, and that the investment is otherwise appropriate given the investor’s age, net worth, income and investment objectives. FINRA found that Noard did not abide by the suitability rule, and recommended an unsafe and unsuitable renewable secured debenture. Noard claimed the debentures were safe and liquid, when in fact the opposite was true. The investor did not receive any of their primary capital before the debentures matured, and it was nearly impossible to resell them on the market.

FINRA found that Noard did not let his customer know the risks associated with this purchase, and did not assess the customer’s financial stability correctly in order to establish that this was a suitable investment for her.

Christopher Hickman, a registered representative from Boynton Beach, Florida, formerly with Cetera Advisors, was fined and suspended from FINRA membership as a result of an investigation into his Unit Investment Trust (UIT) trading for multiple clients, conduct deemed a violation of FINRA rules. Hickman entered into an acceptance, waiver and consent agreement with FINRA in which he neither admitted nor denied the findings, but agreed to a suspension of five months and a fine of $5,000.

In June 2017, Christopher Hickman agreed to the suspension and FINRA published its findings that Hickman encouraged six customers to buy UITs, and then traded them carelessly within a short period of time.

The UITs that Hickman dealt with had 24 month maturities, but Hickman traded them in less than 5 months. He told his customers to use the profits from these trades to buy additional, smaller UITs for him to manage. Overall, Hickman’s clients lost over $100,000 and the AWC disclosed that he entered into a settlement agreement with them in order to pay back their losses plus interest.

Christopher Hawn, a registered representative from Furlong, Pennsylvania, formerly with Alps Distributors, was fined and suspended from FINRA membership as a result of an investigation into allegations that he participated in private securities transactions without obtaining firm approval. Doing so is a violation of FINRA rules. As a result of the investigation Christopher Hawn entered into an acceptance waiver and consent agreement with FINRA in which he neither admitted nor denied the findings, but agreed to a suspension of six months and a fine of $10,000.

In June 2017, Christopher Hawn agreed to the suspension and FINRA published its findings that Hawn failed to inform his broker dealer about his private securities transaction dealings.  Hawn had provided an investment opportunity to his uncle and one of his friends, and they invested approximately $100,000 in the transactions.  FINRA found that Hawn gave out investment information and advertising materials on the deal that had not been approved by FINRA.  These materials failed to disclose the risks inherent in the deal. Such disclosures are important, as they could impact investors’ financial returns.

FINRA also found that Hawn failed to properly disclose his private business dealings to his broker dealer Alps Distributors, and falsified certifications that stated Alps knew about and approved his outside activities.

Kejaun Yang, a registered representative from Woodside, New York, formerly with T3 Trading Group, was suspended from FINRA membership as a result of an investigation into her participation in private securities transactions without obtaining her firm’s prior approval, which is a violation of FINRA rules. Yang entered into an acceptance waiver and consent agreement with FINRA in which she neither admitted nor denied the findings, but agreed to a suspension of 30 business days and a fine of $5,000.

In June 2017, Yang agreed to the suspension and FINRA published its findings that Yang contacted individuals in order to sell them investments in a real-estate private placement. Yang did not get prior written approval from her firm about the investment opportunity or her involvement with it.

FINRA found that one of Kejuan Yang’s clients invested $10,000 in the private opportunity but Yang did not benefit from any compensation from the offering. Nevertheless she was fined and suspended because her firm did not approve of her involvement in the business, and purportedly did not have any record of her dealings.