Recent FINRA Actions 2021

Firm Expelled, Individual Sanctioned

Dakota Securities International, Inc. (CRD® #132700, Miami, Florida) and Bruce Martin Zipper (CRD #1019731, Miami, Florida)
December 21, 2020 – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
issued a decision in which it affirmed, in part, the findings of violations and remanded the proceeding back to the National Adjudicatory Council (NAC) for redetermination of the sanctions. The SEC affirmed FINRA®’s finding that Zipper associated with the firm while statutorily disqualified and suspended in all capacities, and that the firm allowed him to do so. The SEC, however, set aside FINRA’s finding that Zipper engaged, and the firm allowed him to engage, in activities requiring registration while he was suspended. The SEC held that a person who is suspended from associating with a FINRA member, but who is not ordered to requalify by examination, does not violate NASD Rule 1031 by engaging in conduct requiring registration while suspended. The SEC also affirmed FINRA’s finding that Zipper and the firm maintained inaccurate books and records by misidentifying the representative of record on hundreds of transactions, and that the firm willfully violated Section 17(a) and Rule 17a-3 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by maintaining inaccurate books and records. In addition, the SEC affirmed FINRA’s finding that the firm failed to maintain and enforce an adequate supervisory system. FINRA had barred Zipper and expelled Dakota for these violations. The SEC remanded the proceeding back to the NAC for redetermination of the sanctions given its finding that Zipper and Dakota did not violate NASD Rule 1031. The SEC also asked the NAC to clarify why the books and records violations warranted a bar for Zipper and expulsion for the firm. The expulsion and bar are in effect pending review. (FINRA Case #2016047565702)

Firm Fined, Individual Sanctioned

Southern Trust Securities, Inc. (CRD® #103781, Decatur, Georgia) and Susan Molina Escobio (CRD #1062322, Coral Gables, Florida)
November 19, 2020 – A Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) was issued in which the firm was censured and fined $55,000 and Escobio was suspended from association with any FINRA® member in all capacities for six months. In light of Escobio’s financial status, no monetary sanction has been imposed. Without admitting or denying the findings, the firm and Escobio consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that they failed to develop and implement an anti-money laundering (AML) program that was reasonably designed to achieve and monitor the firm’s compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 and the implementing regulations thereunder. The findings stated that the firm’s written AML procedures were not reasonably designed in light of its business model and did not address the specific AML risks arising from servicing its customer base that came from jurisdictions considered to present heightened AML risks. Although the firm and Escobio permitted customers to wire funds into and out of their accounts, including third-party wires, the firm’s procedures offered no specific steps or required actions to take during the review process concerning incoming wires. The firm’s written AML procedures did not specify how it would monitor, detect and investigate red flags indicative of suspicious activity and did not list reports or documents that it intended to rely upon, the systems by which it would conduct reviews, the frequency of any reviews and how it would document each. The findings also stated that the firm and Escobio failed to conduct periodic reviews of a customer’s account, which was a correspondent account of a foreign financial institution. In addition, the firm and Escobio failed to document enhanced due diligence of the customer’s account. The findings also included that the firm and Escobio failed to provide reasonable additional AML training to firm personnel responsible for compliance with AML review responsibilities, including Escobio herself, and failed to provide
reasonable guidance allowing those individuals to fulfill their roles. Further, the firm and Escobio made no effort to tailor the limited AML training to the firm’s risks and customer base, nor did they reasonably train firm compliance staff regarding the execution of their AML duties. FINRA found that the firm, through Escobio, failed to establish, maintain and enforce a supervisory system, including Written Supervisory Procedures (WSPs), reasonably designed to prevent a terminated representative from continuing to access his firm email, which contained customer records, including non-public personal information. The representative was a statutorily disqualified  individual and a founding member of the firm. Despite the representative’s termination, Escobio decided to keep his firm email address active for nearly a year. During this time, Escobio assumed responsibility of reviewing all incoming and outgoing communications from the representative’s firm email address on a daily basis. However, Escobio did not document any written procedures on how such reviews were going to be conducted or documented. Further, the firm did not have any written policies and procedures regarding email access of terminated representatives. The firm and Escobio ignored several red flags that demonstrated that the representative continued to access his firm email address. FINRA also found that Escobio negligently misrepresented to corporate bond dealers regarding the firm’s and its customer’s status as a qualified institutional buyer (QIB) in obtaining restricted bond allocations made pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933. Escobio’s negligent misrepresentations were made as a result of her misunderstanding of the qualifications for QIB status.

The suspension is in effect from December 21, 2020, through June 20, 2021. (FINRA Case #2018059545203)

Firms Fined

Calton & Associates, Inc. (CRD #20999, Tampa, Florida)
December 18, 2020 – An AWC was issued in which the firm was censured, fined $18,000 and required to revise its WSPs. Without admitting or denying the findings, the firm consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that it reported to TRACE customer allocation transactions in TRACE-eligible securitized products that should have been reported as 95 block transactions. The findings stated that the firm failed to report to TRACE the correct capacity and/or commission for transactions in TRACE-eligible securities. The firm entered fixed income transactions it executed into its clearing firm’s system for reporting to TRACE. The firm entered the transactions as principal and, for certain transactions, also included a fee to offset the clearing costs associated with the trade. The firm used a unique principal designation offered by its clearing firm to report such clearing cost fees in the commission field. TRACE does not allow the submission of principal transactions with commissions. Due to this restriction, and unbeknownst to the firm, the firm’s clearing firm changed the principal capacity for these transactions to agent in the relevant TRACE reports. As a result, the publicly disseminated TRACE reports inaccurately reported the firm as having acted in an agency capacity in connection with these transactions when, in fact, it had acted in a principal capacity. In some of those transactions, the firm also inaccurately reported clearing cost fees as commissions. The findings also stated that the firm failed to establish and maintain a system, including WSPs, to supervise the activities of each associated person that was reasonably designed to achieve compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations, and with applicable FINRA rules, specifically those concerning the firm’s compliance with TRACE reporting rules. The WSPs failed to describe the supervisory steps to be taken by the designated supervisor to review for, among other things, the accuracy of the firm’s TRACE reports. The WSPs also failed to describe what TRACE notices and/or reports any such supervisor should consult in conducting reviews. The firm did not include a review of the accuracy of the TRACE reports, or the accuracy of its capacity/commission entries. Also, the firm’s frontline supervision of its TRACE report amounted to a review of reports generated by its clearing firm, yet none of those reports contained information that would have allowed the firm to verify the accuracy of its TRACE reports. (FINRA Case #2019062882101)

Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc (CRD #16164, St. Petersburg, Florida)
December 21, 2020 – An AWC was issued in which the firm was censured, fined $4,400,000 and ordered to pay $4,354,160, of which $321,167 includes interest, in restitution to customers. Without admitting or denying the findings, the firm consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that it failed to reasonably supervise its registered representatives’ variable annuity recommendations and made disclosures that contained materially inaccurate information or omitted material information in connection with variable annuity exchange recommendations. The findings stated that the firm and its representatives received compensation from new variable annuity sales, trails and subsequent contributions in the form of gross dealer commissions in excess of $591 million, representing more than 40 percent of the firm’s total revenue. The firm failed to provide adequate training to its representatives regarding how to complete disclosure forms that were required when recommending a variable annuity exchange and failed to provide adequate training to supervisors regarding how they should verify the information on the disclosure forms or how they should use that information to conduct a meaningful comparison of old and new variable annuities. As a result, certain firm principals approved variable annuity exchanges based on disclosure forms that contained inaccurate or missing information, which had the effect of making the exchanges appear to be more favorable than actually was the case. In certain instances, these misstatements or omissions prevented the firm’s reviewing principals from having a reasonable basis to approve these transactions. In addition, the firm failed to reasonably surveil representatives’ rates of variable annuity exchanges and failed to reasonably supervise representatives’ variable annuity share-class recommendations. The firm failed to provide reasonable training and guidance to its representatives on the features, fees and surrender charges of the various share classes. As a result, certain representatives lacked the information necessary to compare share classes in making suitability determinations. Similarly, the firm failed to provide adequate training or guidance to its supervisors regarding variable annuity share classes. Consequently, supervisors did not identify common red flags. The firm also lacked a reasonably designed system to detect red flags of inappropriate share-class recommendations. Even when the firm became aware of red flags regarding representatives’ variable annuity share-class recommendations, it failed to take appropriate action. The findings also stated that the firm failed to reasonably supervise mutual fund sales to ensure that eligible customers who purchased mutual fund shares received the benefit of applicable sales charge waivers. The firm relied on its representatives to determine the applicability of sales charge waivers to customers’ mutual fund purchases, but it failed to provide guidance to the representatives to assist them in making this determination and failed to establish a system to verify whether waivers were properly applied. As a result, the firm failed to apply sales charge waivers to certain mutual fund purchases made by eligible customers causing the firm to overcharge accounts a total of $438,239. The firm reimbursed each of these accountholders during a FINRA examination. The findings also included that the firm failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system, and failed to establish, maintain and enforce written procedures reasonably designed to supervise the suitability of 529 savings plan share-class recommendations. The firm did not provide adequate guidance to representatives regarding the importance of considering share-class differences when recommending 529 plans and did not provide supervisors with the information necessary to properly evaluate the suitability of the shareclass recommendations. (FINRA Case #2015048250401)

TradeStation Securities, Inc. (CRD #39473, Plantation, Florida)
March 2, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which the firm was censured and fined $850,000. Without admitting or denying the findings, the firm consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that it did not exercise reasonable diligence to ascertain whether the venues where it routed certain equity and option customer orders provided the best market for the subject securities as compared to the execution quality that was being provided at competing markets. The findings stated that at various times, the firm did not reasonably consider or perform underlying execution quality analysis of competing markets relative to the firm’s current routing arrangements. In addition, at other times, the firm did not conduct reviews of the execution quality provided by existing routing venues for specific order types. As a result, the firm did not reasonably consider the quality of executions that the firm could have obtained from competing markets as compared to its current routing arrangements for marketable equity orders. The findings also stated that the firm failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system, including WSPs, reasonably designed to achieve compliance with its best execution obligations. The firm’s supervisory reviews for best execution disregarded several order types and factors and failed to reasonably account for comparisons of the quality of executions the firm obtained via current order routing and execution arrangements to the quality of the executions that the firm could have obtained from competing markets. In addition, the firm’s WSPs provided no guidance as to how it should supervise to achieve compliance with the firm’s best execution obligations beyond requiring a regular and rigorous review of data regarding price and executions. The firm amended its WSPs to include an obligation to conduct a comparative review of execution quality that included a review of competing markets and that the regular and rigorous review should include considerations of specific execution quality factors. However, the firm failed to provide any guidance as to how the supervisor should conduct a comparative review to determine whether any material differences in execution quality existed among competing markets. The WSPs also failed to detail who was responsible for modifying order routes and what execution quality factors should be considered when doing so. The findings also included that the firm failed to disclose material aspects of its relationship with the markets to which it routed most of its order flow. Although the firm disclosed that it maintained payment for order flow arrangements with venues to which it routed nondirected equity and option orders for execution, it failed to report all the material aspects of those relationships. (FINRA Case #2014041812501)

J.W. Cole Financial, Inc. (CRD #124583, Tampa, Florida)
March 29, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which the firm was censured, fined $50,000, ordered to pay $163,527, plus interest, in restitution to customers and required to establish and implement policies, procedures and internal controls reasonably designed to address and remediate the issues identified in the AWC. Without admitting or denying the findings, the firm consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that it failed to reasonably supervise its registered representatives’ recommendations of an alternative mutual fund. The findings stated that the firm permitted the sale of the fund on its platform without conducting reasonable due diligence and without a sufficient understanding of its risks and features, including the fact that the fund pursued a risky strategy that relied, in part, on purchasing uncovered options. The firm also lacked a reasonable supervisory system to review representatives’ fund recommendations. The firm did not provide any guidance or training to representatives regarding the risks and features of alternative mutual funds and did not have WSPs advising firm principals how to supervise recommendations of alternative mutual funds. In addition, the firm failed to consider whether the rules of its electronic trade review system pertaining to traditional mutual funds were reasonable for use in reviewing alternative mutual funds that utilize a more complex strategy, such as the fund, or whether it may have been necessary to tailor the tool’s rules to address particular risks and characteristics of alternative mutual funds, including the fund. As a result, the firm’s fund transactions were generally not identified for additional suitability review, even for customers with moderately conservative risk tolerances. The firm’s representatives sold approximately $1 million in the alternative mutual fund to customers. The fund’s value dropped 80 percent during an extreme volatility event and the fund ultimately liquidated and closed, resulting in thousands of dollars in losses for the firm’s customers. (FINRA Case #2019061764801)

Dawson James Securities, Inc. (CRD #130645, Boca Raton, Florida)
April 6, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which the firm was censured, fined $20,000 and ordered to pay $7,083.93, plus interest, in restitution to customers. Without admitting or denying the findings, the firm consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that it charged customers $7,083.93 in excessive commissions ranging from approximately five percent to 66 percent of the transactions’ principal values. (FINRA Case #2017052790301)

Calton & Associates, Inc. (CRD #20999, Tampa, Florida)
May 18, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which the firm was censured, fined $250,000, ordered to pay $472,007.20, plus interest, in restitution to customers and required to retain an independent consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of the adequacy of its compliance with FINRA Rules 3110(a), 2111 and 2010, including but not limited to, the firm’s policies, systems and procedures related to non-traditional and volatilitylinked exchange traded products (ETPs). Without admitting or denying the findings, the firm consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that it failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system reasonably designed to achieve compliance with its suitability obligations in connection with sales of non-traditional and volatility-linked ETPs. The findings stated that sales of volatility-linked ETPs were not addressed in the firm’s written procedures, exception reporting, or training. The firm only reviewed sales of these ETPs incidentally, as part of its non-traditional ETP trade review, if the ETP was also leveraged. To the extent such a review took place, it did not focus on the significant and well-known risks specific to volatility-linked ETPs. In addition, the firm did not conduct suitability reviews or establish written suitability guidelines required under its procedures, and its supervisors did not regularly review all non-traditional ETP transactions. Rather, the firm only reviewed a portion of such transactions on an ad hoc basis. During a FINRA examination, the firm represented that it had restricted trading in non-traditional ETPs, had implemented a non-traditional ETP disclosure document and would require all its registered representatives to undergo training in exchange-traded funds. In fact, the firm had not implemented the block, only sporadically provided the disclosure document to customers and did not provide training on exchange-traded funds, including nontraditional ETPs. Despite the requirements of the firm’s written procedures, its supervisors failed to review every non-traditional ETP transaction, in part because the firm lacked adequate systems for identifying non-traditional ETPs. The firm also lacked a reasonable supervisory system for monitoring holding periods of non-traditional ETPs, even though the products are typically not suitable for long-term investment, because it relied upon a single supervisor’s ad hoc reviews. The findings also stated that the firm made unsuitable recommendations to purchase non-traditional and volatility-linked ETPs. The firm failed to conduct reasonable diligence to understand the features and risks of the ETPs before allowing representatives to offer them to customers. As a result, the firm’s representatives sold those ETPs to customers without understanding the products’ features and risks, including that such products were only meant to be held on a short-term basis. One of the consequences was that many customers held those ETP positions for longer periods of time, thereby incurring losses. The findings also included that the firm failed to offer retail customers educational materials prior to their first purchases of collateralized mortgage obligations. After FINRA commenced inquiries about whether materials had been offered, the firm provided the materials to the customers. FINRA found that the firm failed to establish, maintain and enforce a supervisory system, including WSPs, reasonably designed to achieve compliance with FINRA Rule 2216(b)(2). FINRA also found that the firm permitted an individual to supervise a representative, even though the representative determined and paid the supervisor’s compensation after hiring her and had the authority to determine whether she remained employed. The supervisor’s compensation consisted of a share of as much as five percent of the representative’s commissions, a housing subsidy to live in a residence owned by the representative’s spouse and a salary. In addition, FINRA found that the firm allowed a non-registered person to engage in the securities business of the firm by accepting and entering customer securities orders at the branch operated by the representative, after the representative had hired him as a branch assistant. The firm granted the non-registered person access to its systems for customer accounts and securities order entry but did not reasonably supervise him to ensure that he was appropriately registered or exclusively performing tasks that did not require registration. (FINRA Case #2018060466201)

Individuals Barred

Roland P. Gerbauld (CRD #4494232, Miami Beach, Florida)
November 16, 2020 – An AWC was issued in which Gerbauld was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Gerbauld consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he failed to substantially comply with FINRA’s request to provide documents and information in connection with an investigation as to whether he participated in a money-laundering scheme as alleged by the Federal Prosecution Office, Office of the Attorney General of State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The findings stated that although Gerbauld initially produced certain requested documents, he acknowledged that he would not produce any of the remaining information or documents requested by FINRA. (FINRA Case #2019064876101)

Joseph Victor Alhadeff (CRD #2938087, Miami Beach, Florida)
November 27, 2020 – An AWC was issued in which Alhadeff was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Alhadeff consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to produce information and documents requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation into a registered representative who was supervised by him and a review of Alhadeff’s supervision of the representative. (FINRA Case #2018057297101)

Vincent Anthony Virga (CRD #5070668, Naples, Florida)
November 20, 2020 – An AWC was issued in which Virga was fined $5,000, suspended from association with any FINRA member in all capacities for one month, and ordered to pay $19,687, plus interest, in restitution to a customer. Without admitting or denying the findings, Virga consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that he recommended that a retired customer purchase $480,000 in mutual funds, but failed disclose to the customer available cost savings, including those provided through rights of accumulation, breakpoint levels and choosing to purchase mutual funds in the same fund family. The findings stated that based on Virga’s recommendations, the customer invested in mutual funds in different fund families. The customer paid $80,000 for each mutual fund investment, totaling $480,000. These investments were part of a larger investment plan that Virga had recommended for the customer. Although the customer received some breakpoint discounts for the mutual funds purchased, he still paid $19,687 in sales charges. Virga failed to disclose to the customer available cost savings based on a right of accumulation arising from the customer’s existing mutual fund investments held at another firm, of which Virga was aware, or should have been aware. Further, Virga failed to disclose to the customer that even greater cost savings were available, including, potentially paying no sales charges whatsoever, if the customer purchased mutual funds in one or two fund families, such as the fund family in which the customer was already invested at the other firm. The suspension is in effect from December 21, 2020, through January 20, 2021. (FINRA Case #2019061187801)

David Alan Stateman (CRD #5530638, Sunrise, Florida)
December 1, 2020 – An AWC was issued in which Stateman was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Stateman consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he failed to respond to FINRA’s requests for documents and information. The findings stated that this matter originated from FINRA’s review of a Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration (Form U5) that Stateman’s former member firm had filed, which disclosed that a customer filed a written complaint against him expressing concerns that funds given to him were not deposited in a timely manner, and that the customer was given misinformation that may result in taxes due to the IRS. (FINRA Case #2019063797402)

Robert James Halldin (CRD #1458098, Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
December 3, 2020 – An AWC was issued in which Halldin was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Halldin consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to appear for on-therecord testimony requested by FINRA as a part of an investigation that originated from its review of a series of Form U5 amendments filed by his former member firm. The findings stated that the Form U5 amendments disclosed complaints and arbitrations filed against Halldin alleging that he traded securities in individuals’ brokerage accounts held away from the firm. (FINRA Case #2017056119601)

Michael Edward Magill (CRD #2024663, Boca Raton, Florida)
December 7, 2020 – An AWC was issued in which Magill was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Magill consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he, without first providing written notice to or receiving written approval from his member firm, participated in private investments away from his firm to investors who were not customers of the firm. The findings stated that Magill began working on behalf of a private issuer to find potential investors for a principal-protected note offered by the issuer. Magill recommended the note to investors, one of whom was elderly, who invested a total of $700,000. When recommending the note to the investors, Magill offered higher interest rates for immediate investments and told the investors that the investment was only available for a short time. Magill earned $14,000 in commissions, a bonus for securing investments by a certain time period and a salary that the issuer paid him. Prior to recommending the note, Magill failed to conduct reasonable diligence to understand the features and risks of investing in the note. Later, Federal authorities shut down the issuer’s offices. An executive of the issuer and Magill’s supervisor at the issuer both pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and were sentenced to prison. It turned out that the issuer’s notes were not legitimate investments and the investors lost their entire investment. (FINRA Case #2019064830701)

David Arthur Jenson (CRD #1333734, Pembroke Pines, Florida)
January 22, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Jenson was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Jenson consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to produce information or documents requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation into whether he recommended customers invest in an unsuitable concentration of church bonds. (FINRA Case #2019060783601)

Valerie Idarraga Ceballos (CRD #6904661, Orlando, Florida)
February 10, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Ceballos was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Ceballos consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that she refused to appear for on-the-record testimony requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation concerning a Form U5 filed by her member firm in which she was terminated for applying for business support from the Small Business Administration when she admitted she did not have a pre-existing formal business as required. (FINRA Case #2020068731301)

Autumn Jordan (CRD #7099142, Jacksonville, Florida)
February 10, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Jordan was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Jordan consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that she refused to provide information and documents requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation following her former member firm’s filing of a FINRA Rule 4530 disclosure concerning her termination. (FINRA Case #2020068711601)

Bryan Gabriel Mazliach (CRD #5518438, Surfside, Florida)
February 17, 2021 – An Office of Hearing Officers (OHO) decision became final in which Mazliach was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities and ordered to pay $158,289, plus interest, in restitution to customers. The sanctions were based on findings that Mazliach recommended and effected an unsuitable investment strategy to customers involving in-and-out, short-term and excessive trading. The findings stated that Mazliach exercised de facto control over trading in the accounts of customers by deciding what securities to buy and sell, the quantities, the price and when trades would occur. Although some of these trades were coordinated with the customers, most of them were not, and were unauthorized. All but one of the customers were 62 years or older when they opened their accounts. Mazliach generated $187,526 in gross commissions while the customers realized losses totaling $171,595. The findings stated that Mazliach recommended that customers engage in an active in-and-out trading strategy over periods of time ranging from eight to 29 months. Mazliach generally did not discuss the commissions and fees that he charged and failed to keep track of the costs of these trades or consider how the costs affected the customers’ accounts. Mazliach lacked a reasonable basis to believe that this trading strategy was suitable for any investors. The findings also included that Mazliach executed unauthorized trades by effecting trades in customer accounts without the customers’ prior knowledge and without first obtaining their authorization. The unauthorized trading constituted 50 percent of the excessive trading in the accounts of customers with overall loses from this trading ranging from $3,900 to $55,262. FINRA found that Mazliach failed to provide documents and information requested by FINRA during the course of its investigation into his trading in customer accounts. (FINRA Case #2016051583101)

Nedjeen Baptiste (CRD #6308317, West Palm Beach, Florida)
March 9, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Baptiste was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Baptiste consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that she refused to produce information or documents requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation into her potential participation in an unapproved outside business activity (OBA). (FINRA Case #2020067705901)

Robert Juan Escobio (CRD #703813, Coral Gables, Florida)
April 12, 2021 – An NAC decision became final in which Escobio was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. The sanction was based on findings that Escobio failed to comply with requests for documents and information and to appear for on-the-record testimony in connection with FINRA’s investigation into whether he continued to associate with a member firm while statutorily disqualified and following denial by the NAC of a Membership Continuance Application (MC-400) submitted by the firm. (FINRA Case #2018059545201)

Michael Joseph Dellaporta Jr. (CRD #500214, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)
April 14, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Dellaporta was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Dellaporta consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to produce information and documents requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation into his involvement in an OBA. (FINRA Case #2020069029001)

John Edgar Simmons Jr. (CRD #4878890, Gulf Breeze, Florida)
May 10, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Simmons was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Simmons consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to produce information and documents requested by FINRA in connection with an investigation into the allegations contained in a Form U5 amendment filed by his former member firm. The findings stated that the Form U5 disclosed an internal review into Simmons involvement in a private securities transaction without notice to, or approval by, the firm. (FINRA Case #2020068525301)

Candido Jose Viyella (CRD #1829255, Miami Beach, Florida)
May 10, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Viyella was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Viyella consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to appear for on-therecord testimony requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation into whether he participated in private securities transactions without providing prior written notice to his member firm. (FINRA Case #2019064630801)

Eric John Vici (CRD #6114866, Dunnellon, Florida)
May 14, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Vici was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Vici consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to provide onthe-record testimony requested by FINRA in connection with a complaint made it by the executor of a customer’s estate about Vici’s handling of the customer’s funds. (FINRA Case #2021069176201)

Kimberly Ann Springsteen-Abbott (CRD #1367633, Holiday, Florida)
May 27, 2021 – A U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit opinion became final in which Springsteen-Abbott was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities and ordered to pay disgorgement in the amount of $36,225.85, plus prejudgment interest. In light of the bar and disgorgement, a fine was set aside. The court dismissed in part and denied in part Springsteen-Abbott’s petition for review. As such, the findings and sanctions imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are upheld. The sanctions were based on findings that Springsteen-Abbott mismanaged her member firm and investment funds she sponsored and controlled through the firm as its owner. The findings stated that in earlier proceedings, the SEC sustained the National Adjudicatory Counsel’s (NAC) findings that Springsteen-Abbott unjustifiably enriched herself by misallocating personal expenses, control person expenses and expenses of other businesses to the firm funds. (FINRA Case #2011025675501)

Jeffrey Warren (CRD #2707969, Coral Springs, Florida)
May 28, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Warren was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Warren consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to produce information and documents requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation into a gift that he received from a former customer of his member firm. The findings stated that this matter arose out of a complaint from a beneficiary of the deceased customer regarding the gift the customer provided to Warren prior to the customer’s death. (FINRA Case #2021070775901)

Cesar Gabriel Hernandez (CRD #3249722, Miami, Florida)
June 24, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Hernandez was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Hernandez consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to appear for on-therecord testimony requested by FINRA in connection with an examination of his member firm’s anti-money laundering (AML) program. (FINRA Case #2019064249401)

Nathan Gersteen Katz (CRD #846475, Belleair, Florida)
June 25, 2021 – An AWC was issued in which Katz was barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities. Without admitting or denying the findings, Katz consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to produce information and documents requested by FINRA in connection with its investigation into his alleged recommendations of short-term switching of mutual funds, forgery of customer signatures on switch letters, use of discretion without authorization and failure to timely disclose certain judgments and liens. (FINRA Case #2018057352601)