Cetera Advisors Stockbroker Sanctioned For Selling Away
Roger Lee Owens of Elkton Maryland a stockbroker employed by Cetera Advisors LLC has been fined $10,000.00 and suspended from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity supported by findings of Owens engaging in private securities transactions in which he sold Cetera customers promissory notes in Woodbridge Group of Companies – a company that later filed bankruptcy. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2018058354501 (Aug. 14, 2019).
According to the AWC, from November of 2015 to October of 2017, investors had been solicited by Owens to purchase promissory notes in now-bankrupt Woodbridge Group of Companies. The AWC stated that $1,170,000.00 in Woodbridge notes were sold by Owens to fourteen investors. After the bankruptcy filing, a judgment had been entered against Woodbridge and its founder mandating their payment of civil penalty and disgorgement of illegal gains procured through a fraudulent scheme.
The AWC stated that at least four customers of Cetera and ten non-firm customers had been steered by Owens towards buying these Woodbridge investments. In fact, $75,000.00 worth of Woodbridge Group of Companies investments had been made by Owens himself.
FINRA indicated that Owens was disallowed from selling the Woodbridge investments or other securities outside the firm’s auspices unless written notification was made to the firm and the firm provided authorization. However, Cetera Advisors was not provided information from Owens about his Woodbridge promissory notes sale or his commissions of $59,471.00.
The AWC stated that Owens was also administered compliance questionnaires for his activities in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He falsified his responses suggesting he did not effect any securities transactions away from the firm without the firm’s permission. FINRA found Owens’ conduct violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 3280.
FINRA Public Disclosure confirms that Owens is the subject of a customer initiated investment related arbitration claim which was resolved for $45,000.00 in damages based upon allegations that the customer’s account was handled in a negligent manner; fiduciary duties were violated; contractual obligations had been breached; federal and state securities laws were violated; and the customer had been defrauded by investments made in Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Funds. FINRA Arbitration No. 18-01002 (May 17, 2019).
On April 2, 2019, Owens was discharged by Cetera Advisors supported by accusations that private securities transactions had been executed by him without approval by the firm.