Investors in Woodbridge upon the recommendation of former financial advisor Joel Vincent Flaningan (“Flaningan”) (CRD# 5664958) may be able to recover their losses in FINRA arbitration. According to FINRA BrokerCheck, Mr. Flaningan was discharged from employment with NYLife Securities LLC (“NYLife”) (CRD# 5167) on or about May 10, 2018, in connection with “allegations he was involved in the solicitation of New York Life (“NYL”) clients to invest in an unregistered entity named Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund… Mr. Flaningan failed to disclose any involvement with Woodbridge to NYL.” Furthermore, publicly available information via BrokerCheck indicates that Mr. Flaningan is currently the subject of one customer dispute concerning allegations that he purportedly failed to disclose the material risks “associated with an unregistered investment in Woodbridge… .”
According to BrokerCheck, NYLife has disavowed any prior knowledge of Mr. Flaningan’s business activity conducted away from the firm in selling purportedly non-approved Woodbridge investments. However, sales of unregistered securities by a financial advisor who engages in such “selling away” activity while still affiliated with his or her brokerage firm may result in the broker-dealer (such as NYLife) being held vicariously liable for the negligence and/or misconduct of its registered representative.
As recently reported, the Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC (“Woodbridge”) of Sherman Oaks, CA, and certain of its affiliated entities, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on December 4, 2017 (U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware – Case No. 17-12560-KJC). The SEC has alleged that Woodbridge, through its owner and former CEO, Mr. Robert Shapiro, purportedly utilized “more than 275 Limited Liability Companies to conduct a massive Ponzi scheme raising more than $1.22 billion from over 8,400 unsuspecting investors nationwide through fraudulent unregistered securities offerings.”
Beginning as early as 2012, Woodbridge and its affiliates offered securities nationwide to numerous retail investors through a network of in-house promoters, as well as various licensed and unlicensed financial advisors. Woodbridge investments came in two primary forms: (1) “Units” that consisted of subscriptions agreements for the purchase of an equity interest in one of Woodbridge’s seven Delaware limited liability companies, and (2) “Notes” or what have commonly been referred to as “First Position Commercial Mortgages” or “FPCMs” consisting of lending agreements underlying purported hard money loans on real estate deals.
Brokerage firms like NYLife have a duty to ensure that their registered representatives are adequately supervised. Consequently, brokerage firms must take reasonable steps to ensure that their brokers follow all applicable securities rules and regulations, as well as adhere to the firm’s internal policies and procedures. In those instances when brokerage firms fail to adequately supervise their registered representatives, they may be held liable for losses sustained by investors.
The attorneys at Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. have significant experience representing investors in disputes involving broker misconduct, including selling away claims often associated with risky and illiquid unregistered securities. Investors may contact a securities arbitration attorney by telephone at (866) 966-9598, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-cost, confidential consultation.