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FINRA Complaint: Florida Brokers Exploited Elderly Investor

On December 21st, 2018, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) filed a complaint against two south Florida brokers: Ami Kathryn Forte (CRD No. 2457536) and Charles Joseph Lawrence (CRD No. 3131566). Both Ms. Forte and Mr. Lawrence served as representatives of Morgan Stanley in Palm Harbor, Florida from 2009 to 2016. 

During their time at Morgan Stanley, FINRA alleges that these brokers exploited an elderly and cognitively impaired customer. This was done through a pattern of unsuitable trading that amounted to the churning of his account. Here, our experienced Miami securities fraud lawyers review the allegations against Ms. Forte and Mr. Lawrence. To access the full complaint, please refer to FINRA Disciplinary Proceeding No. 2016049321302.

The Allegations: Qualitatively and Quantitatively Unsuitable Trading  

The alleged victim in this case is a man identified only as ‘RS’ — a now deceased elderly investor who was suffering from severe cognitive impairment at the time the alleged misconduct took place. FINRA contends that both Ms. Forte and Mr. Lawrence were well aware of their client’s medical situation. In 2011 and 2012, the investor’s mental and physical condition became considerably worse. At that time, FINRA alleges that the two brokers began conducting a large number of trades within the investor’s Morgan Stanley brokerage account.

In a ten-month period, these brokers executed more than 2,800 trades on behalf of their elderly customer. Notably, in some cases, Ms. Forte and Mr. Lawrence would purchase securities, sell them, and then re-purchase them, all within the period of a few weeks. Generally, the securities that were being rapidly traded were designed to be long-term investments — they came with large commissions and fees. FINRA alleges that these two brokers took in nearly $9 million in commissions from this investor. If the FINRA claims are accurate, the conduct by these brokers amounts to churning (excessive trading), which is a clear violation of securities industry rules.

Proposed Sanctions: All Appropriate Remedies  

FINRA is seeking findings of fact and law against both brokers. In addition, the agency is seeking the imposition of monetary sanctions, potentially including the disgorgement of any ill-gotten profits and payment of full restitution to the victim. Finally, FINRA is seeking all other sanctions that are appropriate given the circumstances. This could include suspension or even expulsion from the industry. At the current time, Ami Forte is not actively registered as a broker. However, Charles Lawrence is still registered as a broker and investment advisor. Mr. Lawrence is currently associated with R.F. Lafferty & CO in Oldsmar, Florida. 

Get Help From Our Miami Securities Fraud Lawyers Today

At Carlson & Associates, P.A., our experienced investment fraud attorneys have extensive experience handling elder financial abuse claims. If you believe that your elderly or impaired loved one was taken advantage of by their broker or their brokerage firm, we can help. To arrange a confidential review of your case, please call our Miami law office today. We represent investment fraud victims in Miami and throughout the surrounding communities.


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