Wells Fargo Stockbroker Sanctioned For Unauthorized Trading

Elizabeth Ann Guarino of Woodbury New York a stockbroker formerly registered with Wells Fargo Clearing Services has been fined $10,000.00 and suspended for fifteen months from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity supported by findings that (1) Guarino executed unauthorized trades in a customer’s account and (2) Guarino gave the customer bad investment advice concerning speculative energy securities during the period in which she was associated with Wells Fargo. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2017055883501 (Nov. 1, 2019).

According to the AWC, between March of 2014 and April of 2016, inappropriate advice had been provided by Guarino to BF, a conservative Wells Fargo investor. BF had little experience with investments and depended on Guarino to advise her with regard to producing income from her investment portfolio to supplement her social security income while she was in retirement.

The AWC stated that there were no less than twelve occasions in which BF received bad investment advice from Guarino about speculative investments. Specifically, the customer was advised to purchase oil and natural gas limited partnerships that failed to be appropriate given the risks associated with those products. In one case, the customer received recommendations from Guarino to purchase $85,000.00 in preferred stock shares issued by a limited partnership, Breitburn Energy Partners. The AWC stated that in April of 2016, dividends payable to preferred stockholders had been suspended by Breitburn in part because of the volatility and declining prices in the oil and gas sector. The AWC stated that by May of 2016, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition had been filed by Breitburn. More than $74,000.00 in losses had been sustained by BF from making the preferred stock investment.

The AWC also indicated that three other oil and gas limited partnerships had been inappropriately recommended by Guarino to the customer. All of those limited partnerships contained high risks and were unsuitable for BF given the customer’s financial situation, objectives for investing, and her age. FINRA determined that the poor advice Guarino provided to BF led the customer to experience at least $150,000.00 in losses. FINRA found Guarino’s conduct violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 2111.

In addition, FINRA stated that BF’s account contained trades from Guarino which the customer never authorized. Unbeknownst to the customer and without her consent, Guarino effected trades in the customer’s account on twenty occasions. FINRA determined that Guarino’s conduct was violative of FINRA Rule 2010.

FINRA Public Disclosure additionally reveals that Guarino is referenced in a customer initiated investment related written complaint which was resolved for $150,000.00 on September 28, 2017 based upon accusations that when Guarino was employed by Wells Fargo Advisors LLC, common and preferred stock transactions had been executed by the stockbroker that were wholly unsuitable and which caused the customer to sustain unwarranted losses.

Guarino’s registration with Wells Fargo Clearing Services LLC has been terminated as of November 8, 2017.