The CFP Board sanctioned five advisors permanently, including an ex-Wisconsin legislator found guilty of sexual assault last year.
In addition, the board handed out three suspensions, two interim suspensions and 10 letters of admonition, the board said in a news release.
Among those sanctioned permanently was Bill Kramer, a Republican state representataive who was former majority leader of the Wisconsin Assembly. He was sentenced to five months in prison last November after pleading no contest to two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree sexual assault.
On his LinkedIn profile, Kramer lists himself as owner of Kramer Financial Group. He was last registered with broker-dealer Coordinated Capital Securities.
There is a Kramer Financial Group is New York, but the firm's website does not list Bill Kramer among its members. Daniel L. Kramer, managing director of the New York firm, which is affiliated with LPL, says his firm has no connection with Bill Kramer.
The CFP Board said it revoked Bill Kramer's right to use its certification marks after he failed to answer a board complaint about the assault conviction. Kramer's attorney Eduardo Borda did not return calls. Borda previously told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel his client had suffered significant professional consequences as a result of the conviction.
Two Minnesota advisors also saw their rights to use CFP certification marks revoked permanently. The board alleged that Lance Ziesemer, an advisor at Felt & Co. in Wayzata, sold clients unsuitable investments, churned accounts and executed unauthorized transactions, among other misconduct. According to a note in his FINRA BrokerCheck record, Ziesemer is under investigation for a potential violation of FINRA rules. Ziesemer did not returned calls seeking comment. FINRA declined to comment.
The board also alleges that ex-advisor Frederick Christopher Piatt completed a continuing education course and took an exam on behalf of another advisor without that advisor's knowledge. The board revoked his right to use the CFP designation; in this case, the board's actions come long after regulators sanctioned Piatt. FINRA banned the former Raymond James advisor from the industry a year ago for similar reasons.
Piatt was at Morgan Stanley when he took the online education course for a state insurance license on behalf of another advisor, according to a note in his BrokerCheck file. He later denied doing so to his superiors, according to FINRA. He moved from Morgan to Raymond James in 2012, but was discharged by the firm in 2014 for allegedly falsifying information about his termination from Morgan, according to BrokerCheck records. Piatt consented to FINRA's findings without admitting to or denying the allegations, according to FINRA records. He could not be reached for comment.
Jamie D. Pope, formerly with Wilbanks Securities in Winter Park, Fla., also had his rights to use the CFP certification revoked permanently due to his failure to answer the board's complaints within the required 20-day time period. The board said Pope sold a client "unsuitable investments," and accepted the client's money to invest in what the board referred to as an "unapproved outside business activity" and later converted the client's funds for personal use without authorization. Pope could not be reached despite multiple attempts.
Casaline Woods, last with ING Financial Services in Douglasville, Ga., also had had her rights to use the certification revoked for failure to respond to the CFP Board's complaint within the required 20-day period. Woods could not be reached for comment.
The CFP Board handed down three certification suspensions. Michael T. Ryan of Santa Ana, Calif., and Dominic J. Sacca of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., both received one-year suspensions, while Catherine V. Quinn of Nashville, Tenn., received a nine-month suspension.
Ryan was suspended following the CFP Board's findings that he failed to notify his broker-dealer of his outside business activities and that he participated in private securities transactions without prior written notice and approval from his broker-dealer. Ryan had been suspended previously by FINRA for two years, fined $40,000 and ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution to clients. He failed to notify the CFP Board of that suspension in writing within 30 days. He did not return a call for comment.
Sacca consented to the findings of a CFP Board investigation that he recommended unsuitable tax strategies for clients, and several other related offences, the CFP noted in its release. He did not return a call for comment.
Quinn consented to a CFP Board investigation that she recommended a client "invest 75% of the client's individual retirement account in a risky, illiquid, alternative investment," and facilitated the sale of interests in six unregistered, real estate contracts to 55 clients. She did not return a call for comment to her office.
Additionally, two advisors were given interim suspensions.
David L. Gabai was issued an interim suspension of his CFP certification after the board discovered he had been barred by FINRA for utilizing deceptive, fraudulent and manipulative strategies involving the purchase and sale of National Technical Systems stock. Using his personal and other brokerage accounts, Gabai marked the open and closing prices of National Technical Systems stock and engaged in pre-arranging trading and wash sales in an attempt to create a false or misleading appearance of active trading in the stock and to manipulate its price. His actions also enabled him to avoid margin calls on the company's stock, which he held in his brokerage accounts. Reached at his home in West Hills, Calif., Gabai declined to comment.
Patrick J. Sullivan received an interim suspension from the CFP Board after his suspension from FINRA. According to the CFP Board, Sullivan did not respond to requests for information from FINRA following his termination from his last employer. Sullivan could not be reached.
Several advisors faced less severe sanctions.
Kelly Guncheon received an admonition from the CFP Board for misrepresenting himself as “fee-only” to clients on the board’s Find a CFP Professional search tool. Guncheon says that he does receive commissions on some insurance products, and that though he made a mistake, it was not his intention to mislead anyone. “I think the wording is a little harsh, but I really value my CFP accreditation and I understand they have high standards. I’m sorry I didn’t meet them in this particular case,” says Guncheon, who is head of an independent practice in Minnetonka, Minn. “It was a fair ruling,” he adds.
Following its regular practice, the CFP Board announced the most recent censures in a late Friday afternoon release. The organization said it was not trying to bury disciplinary news about its certificants.
The CFP Board "widely distributes a press release three times a year that contains information about public discipline," CFP Board spokesman Dan Drummond said. "We dispute the contention that [the] CFP Board is keeping information from the public when it publicly sanctions a current or former CFP professional.”
-- Additional reporting contributed by Andrew Shilling, Andrew Pavia and Margarida Correia.
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