Here is a cautionary tale for anyone who has ever received a malpractice judgment. The case, chronicled in Forbes by lawyer Bill Singer, involved a cerebral palsy victim being defrauded by a stockbroker.
Ralph Thomas of Baltimore was a broker and financial planner for Harbor Financial, and from February 2004 until July 2010, he worked for Wells Fargo Advisors.
Thomas met a woman, only identified as KL, who was trustee for a $3 million settlement for her daughter, who developed cerebral palsy from injuries she sustained at birth. Thomas, allegedly got KL to transfer the trust to Harbor Financial, according to Forbes.
Then Thomas allegedly did his dirty work. He was accused of stealing $757,000 from the trust account, using the money to pay off his credit cards and other personal bills.
Then , from June 2006 to May 2009, Thomas took out three mortgages in KL’s name on her home. He put that money in her Harbor Bank account, and then allegedly withdrew that money, about $27,000. He was also accused of takingt $100,000 from the trust account to buy a home.
But that wasn’t all.
In 2009, the retired LM made Thomas her financial advisor. LM had an 85-year-old sister with dementia, and she and her sister shared money from an annuity, according to Forbes. Thomas allegedly took $75,000 from LM’s accounty, one again using the money to trim his credir card bills.
A federal indictment outlining Thomas’s alleged crimes was handed up last August. He was facing up to 20 years in jail, a $250,000 fine for mail fraud, and forfeiture of $838,000 in funds and luxury items that he had.
But in September, Thomas entered a plea bargain, where he only pleaded guilty to mail fraud. He has to make $838,000 in restitution and forfeit some of his property. And he can’t can’t associate with any firm that’s a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which agreed to his settlement offer to dispose of the allegations pending against him.
Columnist Bill Singer said that letting Thomas, who he described as a “low life,” just make a settlement — with no admission of wrongdoing — is just wrong.
“Armed with with a fuller understanding of Thomas’s crimes, I re-read FINRA’s self-regulatory case and realized how pathetic Wall Street regulation truly is,” Singer wrote. “Notwithstanding the epic nature of Thomas’s atrocities, FINRA stil felt it okay to accept a settlement that did not require him to admit its charges. Seriously?”
That’s what I would ask myself, about a guy who allegedly robbed a cerebral palsy victim and a woman with dementia. Seriously?
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
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