Morgan Stanley Failed to Disclose Financial Adviser’s Felony Charge to FINRA, Claims Car Accident Victim’s Attorney

According to Harold Haddon, the civil attorney for car accident victim Dr. Steven Milo, Morgan Stanley (MS) failed to disclose to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority that financial adviser Martin Erzinger had been charged with a felony. Securities firms have 30 days from the time anyone working for them is charged with a felony to file a “Form U4” notifying FINRA.

Erzinger, who works with approximately $1 billion in accounts, was charged with a felony after he struck bicyclist Steven Milo in a car crash last July and then fled the collision site. Milo sustained serious injuries in the traffic crash. In December, the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney financial adviser struck a plea agreement. The felony charge against him was dropped and he pleaded guilty to misdemeanors. Erzinger claimed that at the time of the auto accident, he was suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea, fell asleep at the steering wheel, and did not realize that he had hit anyone with his vehicle.

Erzinger was sentenced to community service and probation. Judge Fred Gannett also ordered him to tell FINRA about the felony charge. Attorney Haddon, however, says the court-ordered disclosure, which was submitted on December 22, doesn’t meet requirements because it only reveals that Erzinger was charged with a felony crime that was later dropped but does not mention the financial adviser’s misdemeanor guilty pleas or the sentence he must now serve.

Milo had opposed the plea agreement. Dow Jones Newswires reports that in court, Milo’s father-in-law Tom Marisco, who founded Marisco Funds and used to manage Janus mutual funds, blamed Morgan Stanley for not making the disclosures, which are mandatory. Morgan Stanley, however, says it contacted FINRA about the issue last July and believes that it satisfied all reporting requirements.

FINRA spokesperson Nancy Condon says the only way to notify FINRA about a reporting requirement is to electronically submit a Form U4.

Related Web Resources:
Lewis: Simple question tough for Morgan Stanley to answer, Denver Post/Dow Jones, January 8, 2010
Financial manager Martin Erzinger to accept plea bargain in Vail hit-and-run, 9News, November 2010
Form U4 Checklist, FINRA
Institutional Investors Securities Blog

Broker misconduct can result in financial losses for investors. Contact our securities fraud attorneys to explore your legal options.