A CFP has been convicted of manslaughter in the first known case of its kind, according to the CFP Board.
Cora Sam was in a state of rigor mortis and appeared lifeless by the time her sister, CFP Amy Sam Ho, brought her to a hospital emergency center in Montebello, California, six years ago, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.
After tending to Sam, medics declared her dead later that day, Oct. 20, 2011. She was 60 and had been disabled for years, according to the D.A.
A post-mortem examination revealed that she weighed just 66 pounds and had large sores on her body. The cause of death was sepsis due to the infected wounds that "had rotted down to the bone," according to Deputy District Attorney Tina Hooks, of the D.A.'s Elder Abuse Unit. Once sepsis set in, it precipitated organ failure, Hooks says
According to Hooks, the death was unintentional. "In her eyes and mind, Cora was a priority and she treated her as a priority," Hooks says. "There was a little disconnect between the reality of it and what actually occurred … There was no financial motive and no financial gain."
The case drew a manslaughter charge given that Sam Ho, of Arcadia, California, had not taken her sister to a doctor for a full year by late 2011 – despite being her sister's full-time caregiver, according to the D.A.'s office. Sam Ho had, however, secured successful medical treatment for her sister's serious bedsores in the past, Hooks says.
NO FINANCIAL MOTIVE
Hooks likened the case to that of driver with a DUI who has been warned that a repeat offense could result in tragedy.
"Then, you get in the car and you kill someone," Hooks says. "It's the same idea in the world of neglect."
Sam Ho was convicted in Los Angeles Superior Court of second-degree manslaughter in December. She is currently serving a 15-year sentence at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, California.
In light of the conviction, the CFP Board said it has temporarily revoked Sam Ho's right to use her certification. The statement came as part of a routine announcement of disciplinary actions last week. It may permanently bar her use of the designation, pending the outcome of its own investigation, the board said.
Sam Ho spent 22 years in the securities industry until 2012, according to BrokerCheck. She spent 14 years at Securities America until 2008, when she moved to Wellington Securities, her broker dealer at the time of her sister's death, according to FINRA's BrokerCheck.
Wellington's registration ended in 2012, according to BrokerCheck.
Securities America declined to comment on the case.
Hooks called Sam Ho's profession unrelated to her sister's death.
"She just happened to be a financial planner who had a dependent adult sister," Hooks says, "and is the person who chose to take on the responsibility of taking care of her sister and didn't do what her sister needed to have done to thrive."