Were you the victim of former Morgan Stanley broker Ami Forte (CRD# 2457536)? Forte was registered with Pinnacle Investments, LLC in Syracuse, New York from March to October 2018. Forte was registered with Morgan Stanley in Palm Harbor, Florida from 2009 to 2016, when she was terminated regarding, “Allegations involving adherence to industry rules and/or firm policy including with regard to use of trading discretion and timely reporting of liens.” Previously, Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated in Palm Harbor, Florida from 2007 to 2009.
In October 2019, FINRA barred Forte after she consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that she willfully violated MSRB Rule G-17 by aiding and abetting Charles Lawrence’s (CRD# 3131566) excessive trading and churning of an elderly customer’s accounts. FINRA found that Forte and Lawrence exploited the elderly customer that was suffering from severe cognitive impairment by engaging in quantitatively unsuitable trading in the customer’s accounts, which generated more than $9 million in commissions. The FINRA findings also stated that Forte and the employee met and spoke frequently with the customer and knew he suffered severe cognitive impairment. However, Forte and the Lawrence never reported the customer’s condition to Morgan Stanley. Instead, Forte and Lawrence increased their level of trading in the customer’s accounts in the months after the customer’s diagnosis. In addition, many of these transactions involved unsuitable short-term trading of long-term investment products, such as income-producing bonds with long-term maturity dates. Forte knowingly or recklessly rendered substantial assistance to Lawrence’s violations by hiring him for the purpose of executing the excessive trading in the customer’s accounts, assisting him in exercising control over the customer’s accounts by exploiting her personal and business relationships, and resulting position of trust and confidence, with the customer and directing and condoning the excessive trading activity that Lawrence executed. Forte was aware that her role was part of an overall activity that was improper.
In January 2019, FINRA made a preliminary determination to recommend that disciplinary action be brought against Forte for potential violations.
Forte has been the subject of one customer complaint, according to her CRD report:
March 2013. “Claimants allege, inter alia, that the financial advisor engaged in unsuitable and unauthorized trading in various accounts (in which claimant’s claim a beneficial interest) after the authorized person on the accounts allegedly suffered from diminished capacity. Time period unspecified.” The customers sought $118,000,000 and the case was settled for $34,387,777.97.
Lawrence was registered with R. F. Lafferty & Co., Inc. in Oldsmar, Florida from 2016 to 2019 and previously with Morgan Stanley in Palm Harbor, Florida from 2009 to 2016, when he was terminated regarding, “Allegations involving adherence to industry rules and/or firm policy regarding use of trading discretion.” Lawrence was barred by FINRA in October 2019.
Pursuant to FINRA Rules, member firms are responsible for supervising a broker’s activities during the time the broker is registered with the firm. Therefore, Forte may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by Forte’s customers.
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