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Woodbridge Officials Invoke the 5th Amendment Against Self-Incrimination

Money Flies The President of a California group of companies known as Woodbridge that has previously been accused of selling unregistered securities by state securities regulators, Robert Shapiro, has reportedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  A March 27, 2017 letter to the SEC from Shapiro’s attorney Ryan O’Quinn, Esq., reportedly stated that “Upon consideration of the SEC’s investigative subpoenas and a review with counsel of the individual rights afforded by the United States Constitution, Mr. Shapiro will rely on his constitutional privilege to refuse to be a witness against himself.”

Woodbridge Wealth, a California-based firm, is a successor company to Woodbridge Structured Funding, LLC, and sells structured financial products to investors, often through intermediary brokers.   These sales have resulted in certain actions by state regulators. For example, in April of 2017, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Securities Compliance and Examinations entered into an agreement with Woodbridge Wealth, to settle allegations of securities industry misconduct arising out of sales of complex structured settlement products that Pennsylvania regulators alleged were unregistered securities.  In another example, in May of 2016, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) suspended Frank John Capuano (CRD#: 844182), a registered broker from western Massachusetts, after he was alleged to have improperly sold Woodbridge Wealth notes to investors while employed as a registered representative of Royal Alliance Associates in Holyoke, Massachusetts.  Finally, in May of 2015, Massachusetts state regulators charged a non-registered individual named Charles Nilosek and his firm, Position Benefits, LLC, with fraud. These charges were brought bssed on the regulators’ allegations that the firm was marketing and selling unregistered securities to vulnerable elderly investors. These complex securities were allegedly sold to retirees as having a guaranteed return, but in fact were complex unregistered securities with no guaranteed return and the potential to create substantial principal losses.

Woodbridge, based in California, has reportedly raised over $1 billion from investors.  Despite the regulatory actions, Woodbridge reportedly continues to sell securities. Some of the issuers of Woodbridge securities are the following:

*         WMF Management, LLC

*          Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC

*          Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 1, LLC

*          Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 2, LLC

*          Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund 3, LLC

*          Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund PA, LLC

*          Woodbridge Group of Companies, LLC (d/b/a Woodbridge Wealth)

As members and associated persons of FINRA, brokerage firms and their financial advisors must ensure that adequate due diligence is performed on any investment that is recommended to investors- including private placements under Regulation D.  Further, firms and their brokers must ensure that investors are informed of the risks associated with an investment, and must conduct a suitability analysis to determine if an investment meets an investor’s stated investment objectives and risk profile.  Either an unsuitable recommendation to purchase an investment or a misrepresentation concerning the nature and characteristics of the investment may give rise to a claim against a stockbroker or financial advisor.

The attorneys at Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. have significant experience in representing investors who have incurred losses in connection with private placement offerings, including investments in oil and gas drilling funds and hedge funds.  Investors with questions about losses in Woodbridge investments may contact our office at (866) 966-9598 or for a no-cost, confidential consultation.

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