A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announcement dated June 4, 2012, stated that a hearing panel ruled in favor of claimants against Brookstone Securities of Lakeland, Florida, along with one of its brokers, Christopher Kline, and its owner and CEO, Antony Tuberville. Brookstone, Kline and Tuberville apparently made fraudulent sales of CMOs, or collateralized mortgage obligations, to elderly, retired and unsophisticated investors. Brookstone was fined $1 million in addition to an order of restitution payment of more than $1.6 million to customers. Of that amount, $1,179,500 was imposed jointly with Kline and the remaining $440,600 was imposed jointly with Tuberville. Securities arbitration lawyers say Kline and Tuberville were also barred by the panel from working again in the securities industry. In addition, David Locy, former chief compliance officer of Brookstone, was barred from acting in any principal or supervisory capacity. Locy was also fined $25,000 and was barred for two years from acting in any capacity.
According to the panel’s findings, from July 2005 through July 2007, Kline and Tuberville made intentional fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions regarding the risks associated with CMOs. The affected customers were all retired investors seeking an alternative to equity investments that was safer. Despite the fact that the negative effects that increasing interest rates were having on the CMOs by 2005 were evident to Kline and Tuberville, they failed to explain these conditions to their customers. The clients were instead led to believe that the CMOs were “government-guaranteed bonds” that would generate 10 to 15 percent returns and preserve capital.
For a long time, investment fraud lawyers have been warning investors that retired and elderly investors are often the targets for investment fraud, and this was certainly the case here. Of the seven customers named in the original complaint, all were retired, elderly and/or unsophisticated investors. Furthermore, two were elderly widows who were convinced to put their retirement savings in the risky CMOs and then told that because they were “government-guaranteed bonds,” their money could not be lost. However, in total, the seven investors lost $1,620,100 while Brookstone racked up $492,500 in commissions.