Paul Anthony Steffany, a Stockbroker with Raymond James, was permanently barred from association with any Financial Industry Regulatory Industry (FINRA) after consenting to findings that he converted funds from his firm’s customer, while also forging the signature on checks made payable to the estate of an individual. Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent, No. 2014041650301 (Oct. 8, 2015). Raymond James, according to public disclosure records, discharged Steffany as a result of his misconduct.

According to the AWC, Steffany acted in the capacity of trustee of a testamentary Trust established by an estate customer of Raymond James. The Trust was reportedly established for the benefit of the customer’s son and grandchildren. The AWC indicated that Steffany’s responsibilities included paying tax and legal bills, signing tax returns, and distributing funds to the beneficiaries of the Trust.

The Trust was reportedly silent on now much Steffany was to be paid as trustee. Consequently, Steffany had paid himself roughly $193,900 from January, 2007 – April, 2014, via funds belonging to the estate for his services as trustee. FINRA found that Steffany had converted a minimum of $112,742 in funds that belonged to the estate by way of his excessive trustee fees, especially considering his limited role and duties as trustee.

The AWC indicated that Steffany would compensate himself via transfer of funds from the estate’s brokerage account at Raymond James to another estate bank account outside of his firm, where he would write checks payable to cash and subsequently use the funds for paying credit card bills and his mortgage. Steffany, according to the AWC, had the bank account statements sent to him in an effort to conceal his misconduct. The AWC noted that Steffany refunded the $112,742 only after his firm investigated his administration of the Trust. FINRA found Steffany’s conduct in this regard to be in violation of NASD Rule 2330(a), FINRA Rule 2150(a), NASD Rule 2110, and FINRA Rule 2010.

The AWC further stated that from August, 2007 – April, 2014, Steffany had arranged for nineteen checks to be made payable from the estate’s brokerage account, totaling $247,000. Steffany reportedly endorsed twelve of the checks totaling $170,000.00 by signing his own name and forging the signature of his co-executor (Steffany was also executor). Subsequently, as the AWC stated, Steffany eventually withdrew the funds to pay for personal expenses. FINRA found this conduct to be in violation of NASD Rule 2110 and FINRA Rule 2010.

Firms and individuals, not surprisingly, are prohibited from unauthorized use of customer funds, borrowing of a customer’s securities or funds, forgery, non-disclosures or misstatements of material facts, and various deceptions and manipulations. Such conduct can also be found to violate criminal and other civil laws, and be subject to sanction from the federal and state government bodies.

Guiliano Law Group

If you have been the victim of securities fraud and you have a complaint, you should consult with an attorney. The practice of Nicholas J. Guiliano, Esquire, and The Guiliano Law Group, P.C., is limited to the representation of investors in claims for fraud in connection with the sale of securities, the sale or recommendation of excessively risky or unsuitable securities, breach of fiduciary duty, and the failure to supervise. We accept representation on a contingent fee basis, meaning there is no cost unless we make a recovery for you, and there is never any charge for a consultation or an evaluation of your claim. For more information contact us at (877) SEC-ATTY.

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