Articles Posted in Lincoln Financial Advisors

Ex-Newbridge Securities Broker Involved in $131M Fraud Pleads Guilty 
Gerald Cocuzzo, has pleaded guilty to securities fraud related to his involvement in a $131M market manipulation scam involving Forcefield Energy Inc. (FNRG). According to the U.S. Justice Department, between 1/2009 and 4/2015, Cocuzzo and others sought to bilk investors in the publicly traded company that globally distributes and provides LED lighting products. They did this by artificially manipulating the volume and price of the shares that were traded.

Meantime, Cocuzzo received kickbacks for buying Forcefield stock in his clients’ brokerage accounts. He did not tell the customers that he was receiving these payments. Instead, he and several others sought to hide their involvement.

Newbridge Securities fired Cocuzzo earlier this year following the federal indictment. Before working at Newbridge, he was registered with IAA Financial, previously called CBG Financial Group Inc.

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Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts William Galvin announced today that the state has reached a $9.6M securities settlement with five independent brokerage dealers-Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. (AMP), Commonwealth Financial Network, Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., Royal Alliance Associates Inc., & Securities America Inc.-over the allegedly inappropriate sale of nontraded real estate investment trusts to investors. $8.6M of this is restitution to them.

Galvin says that the investigation, which was triggered by complaints from customers, led to the discovery of a “pattern of impropriety” in the sale of these securities by independent broker-dealers where supervision has been hard to “maintain.” As part of the nontraded REIT settlement, Ameriprise will pay $2.6 in restitution and a $400K fine, Securities America will pay $778K in restitution and a $150K fine, Royal Alliance will pay $59K in restitution and a $25K fine, Commonwealth Financial Network will pay a $2.1M restitution and a $300K fine, and Lincoln Financial will pay a $504K restitution and a $100K fine.

The non-traded REIT agreement with these independent brokerage firms comes just three months after Galvin settled a similar securities fraud case with LPL Financial Holdings Inc. accusing that financial firm of inadequately supervising their brokers tasked with selling the financial instruments. LPL Financial agreed to pay $2.5M in restitution and a $500K administrative fee over seven nontraded REITs that were sold.

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