Articles Posted in Wedbush Securities

Wedbush to Pay Trusts, Family Members Over $813,000
A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Panel says that Wedbush securities and investment advisor Kevin Thomas Scarpelli must jointly and severally pay several investors over $813,000 to resolve allegations of professional negligence and failure to supervise related to investments made in Natural Resources USA Corp. The respondents denied the allegations and asked that the claims be thrown own.

After considering the pleadings, evidence, and testimony, the panel decided that Wedbush and Scarpelli must pay claimants: Mary L. Riscornia TTEE nearly $263,000, Jennifer Tiscornia over $252,313, Nicolas E. Toussaint over $55,300, Nicolas E. Toussaint TTEE over $1800, Michael J. Nicolai over $18,4000, Michael Nicolai TTEE over $156,221, Jeffrey M. Nicolai over $22,154, Katherine M. Nicolai over $22,000 and Alexandria P. Nicolai over $22,000 in damages, interest, legal fees, and costs. The FINRA panel denied Scarpelli’s request to have his record expunged of this securities case.

SEC Files Charges in $78M Pump-and-Dump Scam Involving Jammin’ Java Stock, Marley Trademark
The Securities and Exchange Commission is accusing ex-Jammin’ Java CEO Shane Whittle of masterminding a $78 million pump-and-dump scam involving the company’s shares. Jammin’ Java operates Marley Coffee, which uses the late reggae legend Bob Marley’s trademark to sell products.

According to the regulator, Whittle used a reverse merger to-in secret-get control of millions of Jammin’ Java shares, which he then spread to offshore entities under the control of Michael Sun, Wayne Weaver, and René Berlinger. The shares were dumped on the public after their price rose in the wake of bogus promotional campaigns. Whittle purportedly hid the scam by making misleading omissions and statements in reports submitted to the SEC.
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Wedbush Settles Market Access Violation Case for $2.44M

Wedbush Securities has agreed to settle a market access violations case with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by admitting to wrongdoing and paying $2.44 million. The brokerage firm has also agreed to hire an independent consultant.

According to the SEC order, Wedbush violated the market access rule because it didn’t have the proper risk controls in place before giving customers access to the market. Among the customers that were given this access were thousands of anonymous overseas traders.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has sanctioned thirteen financial firms, including UBS Financial Services (UBS), Charles Schwab and Co. (SCHW), J.P. Morgan Securities (JPM), and Stifel Nicolaus & Co. (SF), for the improper sales of Puerto Rican junk bonds. A $100,00 minimum denomination had been established in junk bonds of $3.5 billion made by Puerto Rico several months ago. An SEC probe, however, revealed that there had been 66 instances when firms sold the bonds in transactions of under $100,000.

Municipal bond offerings are supposed to have a set minimum denomination that determines the smallest amount that a firm can sell to an investor during a single transaction. Typically, municipal issuers will establish high minimum denominations for junk bonds with a greater default risk. This is done to limit the bonds from ending up in the accounts of investors who may not be able to handle the risks.

The firms and their fines: UBS Financial Services for $56,400, Charles Schwab & Co. for $61,800, Oppenheimer & Co. (OPY) for $61,200, Wedbush Securities Inc. for $67,200, Hapoalim Securities USA for $54,000, TD Ameritrade (AMTD) for $100,800, Interactive Brokers LLC for $56,000, Stifel Nicolaus & Co. (SF) for $60,000, Investment Professionals Inc. for $67,800, Riedl First Securities Co. of Kansas for $130,000, J.P. Morgan Securities for $54,000, National Securities Corporation for $60,000, and Lebenthal & Co. for $54,000.

A FINRA arbitration panel has fined Wedbush Securities Incorporated, founder Edward Wedbush, and broker Debbie Michelle Saleh to pay $2,865,885 in damages. The victim of this securities case was Rick Cooper, an elderly investor. His securities claim alleged breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, failure to supervise, intentional misrepresentation and omissions, unauthorized transaction, unsuitable transactions, emotional abuse, elder abuse, and churning related to transactions of unspecified variable annuities.

Cooper’s securities fraud lawyers claim that Saleh sent him bogus monthly account statements, forged his signature, and conducted transactions that he hadn’t authorized, including the buying and selling of annuities and other financial products that were not suitable for him.

While Cooper’s account balances went down to one-third of $1.86 million, Saleh is accused of making money from fees and commissions that she charged him. The FINRA panel found that Saleh purposely misrepresented information about Cooper’s investments and she did make unauthorized transactions. The panel believes that Saleh of acting intentionally to defraud her clients. They said her actions either bordered on or actually were acts of “criminal misconduct.”

Of the $2.9 million, Saleh must pay $500,000 plus $1 million in punitive damages. Wedbush and its founder have to pay $500,000. Saleh, Wedbush, and Edward Wedbush also have to pay 10% annual interest on the damages, Cooper’s legal fees, and his other costs. Wedbush has to pay 100% of the arbitration forum fees, which is about $33,300. Two years ago, Saleh, who is no longer with Wedbush, has been permanently barred from the securities by FINRA.

Cooper is not the only person to file a securities claim against Saleh accusing her of misconduct. She is at the center of 4 investigations and 10 client complaints.

Wedbush has been named in at least 53 regulatory events and 52 arbitrations. Failure to supervise was a common complaint.

Failure to Supervise
Our securities fraud lawyers cannot stress how important it is for broker-dealers and investment advisers to properly supervise their brokers, advisers, other employees, and independent contractors. Not only must appropriate supervision take place, but also procedures of supervision have to be designed, implemented, and executed. Also, an employee assigned a supervisory role must complete specialized training to receiver a supervisor license from the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD).

In the event that the broker engages in any type of misconduct or other wrongdoing, his/her supervisor and the financial firm can be held liable for allowing the alleged acts to take place-even if the employee that actually engaged in the wrongdoing isn’t found liable. You will want to work with a securities fraud law firm that knows how to prove that failure to supervise occurred.

FINRA Panel Orders Wedbush, Former Broker to Pay Investor $2.9M,, August 31, 2011
FINRA Arbitrators Award Millions in Elder Abuse Case, Forbes, September 1, 2011

More Blog Posts:

FINRA Panel Orders Wedbush Securities to Pay $233,000 in Securities Fraud Damages, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 28, 2011
Wedbush Ordered By FINRA Panel To Pay $3.5M to Trader Over Withheld Compensation, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 16, 2011
SEC Charges Filed in $22M Ponzi Scam that Targeted Florida Teachers and Retirees, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 29, 2011 Continue reading

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel says Wedbush Securities Incorporated must pay Karen E. Ray $233,000 in damages. Ray had accused the brokerage firm of numerous causes of action, including negligence, purposely negligent misrepresentations, and violating FINRA Rules of Fair practices.

Rays case isn’t the first one against the broker-dealer. FINRA’s broker report on the financial firm noted that Wedbush has been at the center of a number of customer complaints and over 40 regulatory inquiries brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, FINRA (previously NASD), the NYSE Division of Enforcement, as well as regulatory bodies in Colorado, Washington, New Jersey, Georgia, Idaho, and Oregon. Among the allegations are those involving supervisory failures and market timing. The broker report also noted that Wedbush had received over 40 securities arbitration claims by customers alleging unsuitability, negligence, excessive margin, churning, misrepresentation, and/or breach of fiduciary duty. Their cases involved different kinds of securities, such as mutual funds, bonds, stocks, municipal securities, annuities, and options.

In July 2007, our stockbroker fraud blog posted a story about a securities complaint against Wedbush filed by a group of nuns. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet contended that they lost $1 million because Wedbush placed their money in mortgage-backed CMO securities.