Former Titus Rockefeller, LLC broker Andre LaBarbera (CRD# 2072370) faces multiple customer complaints for investment losses. LaBarbera was registered with Titus Rockefeller, LLC in Dix Hills, New York from 2013 to 2018. Titus Rockefeller, LLC was expelled by FINRA in July 2020 after it failed to file its 2019 annual audit report.
In March 2018, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation barred LaBarbera regarding, “Conducted unsuitable customer transactions, churned customer accounts, traded customer accounts on margin without margin agreements, and engaged in fraudulent transactions.”
In May 2018, FINRA barred LaBarbera and sanctioned him to pay restitution in the amount of $86,940.35, a monetary penalty of $42,033.80 and a $125,000 Civil and Administrative Penalty and Fine regarding: “LaBarbera was named a respondent in a FINRA complaint alleging that he, with his member firm and other firm representatives, excessively traded and churned customers’ accounts. The complaint alleges that the misconduct should have quickly drawn scrutiny, and been stopped, because cost-to-equity ratios were often over 100 percent; turnover rates were often over 100; there were extraordinary amounts of in-and-out trading; customer accounts were highly margined and often concentrated in one security; there were large numbers of transactions in which the total commission/markup per trade exceeded three percent and, in many instances, exceeded four percent; there was a deceptive mix of riskless principal and agency trading in numerous accounts, namely, higher cost trades in which markups almost always exceeded three percent (and generally exceeded $1,000 per trade) were executed on a riskless principal basis whereas lower cost trades, typically involving sales of the same securities, were executed on an agency basis; inverse and/or leveraged exchange traded funds (ETFs) and exchange traded notes (ETNs) remained in accounts for multiple trading sessions; solicited trades were inaccurately characterized as unsolicited; and nearly all of the customer accounts at issue exhibited large losses. The trading was excessive in light of, and inconsistent with, the customers’ investment objectives and financial situation. LaBarbera, the firm and the other representatives engaged in a manipulative, deceptive and fraudulent scheme by churning the accounts of customers. They acted with intent to defraud and/or with reckless disregard of their customers’ interests by seeking to maximize their own remuneration in disregard of the interests of their customers and as a result, willfully violated section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, FINRA rules 2010 and 2020, and NASD rules 2110 and 2120. The complaint also alleges that Labarbera recommended transactions involving leveraged and/or inverse exchange traded products (ETPS) to customers. Labarbera lacked reasonable grounds for believing that these risky and speculative securities were suitable for the customers and that the customers understood and were willing to assume the risks particular to these securities. Labarbera mischaracterized solicited trades as “unsolicited,” thereby causing the firm’s books and records to be inaccurate.” According to FINRA, “the sanctions were based on findings that LaBarbera recommended quantitatively unsuitable trading in the accounts of customers. The findings stated that the trading activity in all of the customer accounts at issue was excessive and inconsistent with the customers’ financial circumstances and investment objectives. The findings also stated that LaBarbera churned the accounts of customers, in violation of Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and FINRA Rule 2020. In all of the customer accounts at issue, the benefits to LaBarbera far outstripped any likely return to the customers from the trading, making it manifest that he was trading for his own benefit without regard to the interests of the customers. Accordingly, LaBarbera acted in willful and reckless disregard of the customers’ interest. The findings also included that LaBarbera made qualitatively unsuitable recommendations of transactions involving leveraged or inverse exchange traded products to customers. The Hearing Panel dismissed the charge that LaBarbera mismarked certain solicited trades as unsolicited. On November 11, 2016, LaBarbera appealed the decision to the NAC. The sanction is not in effect pending the review. NAC Decision rendered May 23, 2018, wherein the NAC affirmed the findings and modified the sanctions imposed by the Office of Hearing Officers (OHO). The sanctions were based on findings that LaBarbera engaged in excessive trading and churned customers’ accounts in violation of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5, NASD Rule 2120 and FINRA Rule 2020. LaBarbera also made unsuitable recommendations to customers. The decision became final June 25, 2018.”
LaBarbera has been the subject of six customer complaints between 1996 and 2020, according to his CRD report. Recent complaints are regarding:
- February 2020. “Claimant alleges unsuitability, overconcentration, churning, breach of fiduciary duty and fraudulent misrepresentation. Claimant’s attorney has neglected to point out that his client [REDACTED] is a professional gambler and has been so for decades betting thousands of dollars in individual gambling situations on college and professional football games with accounts set up both in his name and his grandson’s name (they are partners) in Las Vegas, on-line gambling websites, off shore and with professional bookmakers which in the United States constitutes an illegal activity punishable both by fines and imprisonment. What makes Claimant a professional is that he wins regularly with his sports betting activities. Claimant [REDACTED] engaged both his broker and others at the firm regularly in conversation where he regaled us with his exploits as a gambler. We monitored his bets because we found it implausible that an individual could regularly win at betting. [REDACTED] brought the same concentration to his investments in the stock market where he understood the pluses and minuses of all trades that he engaged in. He was in regular contact with his broker, received trade confirmations and month end statements regularly and NEVER COMPLAINED either in writing or verbally to his broker or any other person at the firm during the several years that his account was lodged at the firm. His account was not a fiduciary account and therefore there was no breach of fiduciary duty. All trades were suitable as to his investment objectives. The Claimant signed a trading letter indicating he wanted to trade and was aware of the attendant risks that trading creates. He furthermore understood in writing that such trading can and does lead to higher than ordinary commission generation and he was comfortable with it as well as knew the total associated costs that accompanies a trading account. [REDACTED] had maintained many such accounts in the past with other firms similar in nature and had even sued brokers in the past for the same thing he is alleging now. This leads us to believe that he is simply a man who if he wins takes his chips and runs. If he loses, he uses the arbitration process as an effort to get his money back. I will vigorously defend myself against these allegations.” The customer is seeking $23,793 in damages and the case is currently pending. The complaint took place while LaBarbera was registered with Titus Rockefeller, LLC (dba TR Capital Group, LLC. The complaint was regarding equity OTC and common and preferred stocks.
- February 2020. “Claimant in his original “statement of claim” named ONLY the firm and did NOT name Andre LaBarbera who was the Claimant’s broker for only part of the time the client was with the firm. Nor did the Claimant in his original statement name the broker(s) who serviced his account(s) during the period in question. Claimant alleged in his original statement of claim that over a period of six years beginning in 2013 until 2018 that his broker(s) engaged in unauthorized trading, churning and fraud resulting in losses to his account(s) Claimant waited more than a year before filing an amended statement naming broker Andre LaBarbera as an afterthought as a defendant. During the period in question, Claimant spoke with LaBarbera on average 3 times per week for extensive conversations sometimes exceeding an hour per conversation. Claimant received confirmation advices on every trade, P&L Statements, month end statements and yearly summary reports which he used to prepare his IRS required Schedule D filings showing his profit and losses on every trade entered into and yet he insists he had no awareness over a half dozen years that he was losing money. In addition, Claimant entered into many unsolicited transactions using his own ideas and research demonstrating sophistication. Claimant voluntarily was an active trader which is reasonable for a trading account and therefore churning accusations are inappropriate and inaccurate. Claimant’s investment objectives were speculation and aggressive trading which he acknowledged in writing. LaBarbera vigorously denies all claims set forth against him.” The customer is seeking $1,554,000 in damages and the case is currently pending. The complaint took place while LaBarbera was registered with Titus Rockefeller, LLC (dba TR Capital Group, LLC. The complaint was regarding equity OTC and common and preferred stocks.
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, Titus Rockefeller, LLC may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by LaBarbera’s customers.
Erez Law represents investors in the United States for claims against brokers and brokerage firms for wrongdoing. If and have experienced investment losses, please call us at 888-840-1571 or complete our contact form for a free consultation. Erez Law is a nationally recognized law firm representing individuals, trusts, corporations and institutions in claims against brokerage firms, banks and insurance companies on a contingency fee basis.
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