Were you the victim of former Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith financial advisor Giustino Destefano (CRD# 4926924)? Destefano was registered with Securities America, Inc. in Williamsville, New York from 2014 to February 2015, when he was terminated regarding, “failure to follow firms policies.” Previously, he was registered with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated in Williamsville, New York from 2009 to 2014 when he was terminated regarding, “conduct involving potentially mismarking order tickets for certain transactions in client accounts and recommending securities not covered by the firm.”
In June 2016, FINRA suspended Destefano for three months and sanctioned him to $10,000 in civil and administrative penalties and fines after Destefano consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that he exercised discretion in customers’ accounts and executed trades without written authorization from the customers and without obtaining prior written acceptance of the accounts as discretionary from his member firm. According to Destefano’s CRD, “The findings stated that Destefano mismarked over 100 order tickets as unsolicited when, in fact, the trades were solicited, thereby causing the firm to maintain inaccurate books and records.”
Destefano has been the subject of six customer complaints between 2015 and 2018, one of which was denied and one was closed without action, according to his CRD report:
- September 2017. “Claimants allege representative engaged in discretionary trading and overconcentrated claimants’ accounts in unsuitable stocks. Additional allegations are negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.” The customer is seeking $830,000 in damages and the case is currently pending.
- February 2017. “Client alleges the representative effected unauthorized and unsuitable transactions between August 2014 and March 2015.” The customer sought $120,963.33 and the case was settled for $13,998.76.
- February 2017. “Power of attorney for customer alleges excessive trading from May 2009 through October 2011.” The case was settled for $35,000.
- September 2015. “The Customer alleges unsuitable investment recommendations, misrepresentation, excessive trading and unauthorized trading from May 2014 to February 2015.” The customer sought $425,699 in damages and the case was settled for $35,000.
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, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by Destefano’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.