Apple REIT Arbitration: FINRA Rules Against David Lerner Associates in First of Hundreds of Cases

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. arbitrator Alvin Green is ordering David Lerner Associates Inc. to pay claimants Florence Hechtel and Joseph Graziose $24,450 for the Apple REITs that they bought from the firm. They will get the money after returning the Apple REIT 9 shares to the company. The Apple REIT is the 14th largest nontraded real estate investment trust in the US. David Lerner & Associates also will have to reimburse them their $425 FINRA claim filing fee.

According to Graziose and Hechtel, the financial firm misrepresented the Apple REIT 9, as well as breached its fiduciary duty and contract to them. Other Apple REIT investors have made similar claims. However, of the hundreds of arbitration claims (there are also securities lawsuits) that have been pending, this is the first one to go to hearing.

Per FINRA, since 1992 David Lerner & Associates has sold close to $7 billion in Apple REITs, making about $600 million in revenue from the sales (60-70% of the firm’s business since 1996). It is the only distributor of Apple REITs.

Last year, the SRO charged the financial firm with soliciting investors to buy Apple REIT Ten shares (a $2 billion non-traded REIT) without performing a reasonable investigation to make sure the REITs were suitable for these clients. Many of its Apple REIT investors are not only unsophisticated investors but also they are elderly. David Lerner & Associates also allegedly offered misleading information about the distribution online.

Several months ago, FINRA also sued firm owner David Lerner for similar alleged misconduct, including misleading clients about the valuation and risk involved in their Apple REIT Tens. The complaint against Lerner follows statements he is accused of making to investors after FINRA made its charges against the financial firm.

Per the amended complaint, Lerner wrote to over 50,000 clients to “counter negative press.” This letter also talked about a potential opportunity for Apple REIT shareholders to take part in a listing or a sale on a national exchange to get rid of their shares at a reasonable price. Also, at a seminar he hosted Lerner allegedly made statements to investors that were misleading.

For the last nine months, our REIT lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD, LPP has been investigating claims on behalf of investors who sustained losses in Apple Real Estate Investment Trusts that they bought from David Lerner Associates. For many investors, these non-traded REITs were unsuitable for them.

First Apple REIT case goes against Lerner, Investment News, May 23, 2012

FINRA Charges David Lerner & Associates With Soliciting Investors to Purchase REITs Without Fully Investigating Suitability; Lerner Marketed REITs on its Website With Misleading Returns, FINRA, May 31, 2011

More Blog Posts:

David Lerner & Associates Ignored Suitability of REITs When Recommending to Investors, Claims FINRA, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 8, 2011

REIT Retail Properties of America’s $8 Public Offering Results in Major Losses for Fund Investors, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 17, 2012

Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas LLP Pursue Securities Fraud Cases Against Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, & Smith, Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, and First Allied Securities, Inc., Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 10, 2012
Unlike REITs, non-traded REITs aren’t traded on securities exchanges. Not only can they be illiquid, but also they can be very difficult to sell in secondary markets. They also are usually accompanied by higher fees than REITs that are publicly traded.
Contact our Apple REIT investment lawyers and ask for your free case evaluation.