Four years after securities regulators sued five former brokers at Prudential Securities for extensive improper mutual fund trading, Justin Ficken, never considered the most notorious trader in the scandal, is facing the largest monetary penalty out of everyone, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

A federal judge in Boston last month ordered Ficken to pay $872,647, a lot more money than what the other traders have been required to shell out thus far.

“It’s a huge number and I don’t understand why the Securities and Exchange Commission wants to pick on Justin Ficken,” said Gary Pelletier, Ficken’s attorney. “I don’t think anyone’s alleging his level of culpability would rise to some of the other people there.”

Other attorneys stated that the reason could be because Ficken continued to fight the case while most of the remaining brokers worked out settlements.

For example, John Peffer came to an agreement with regulators December 2005 requiring him to pay only $51,734 even though an official judgment against Peffer was $448,288.

In December 2006, the SEC asked for a summary judgment against Ficken and an order requiring him to repay $732,281 in trading commission, plus interest. Pelletier said they wanted to settle the case, but wasn’t sure why they couldn’t reach an agreement.

Ficken currently works as a real estate broker earning about $30,000 a year, and has about $30,000 in assets, according to court papers and Pelletier. In court papers, he suggested if Ficken was required to pay anything, it should be $15,000, an amount he could afford.

The judge noted in his order that financial hardship was not grounds for denying repayment awards.

Whatever the figure, Pelletier said it’s unlikely Ficken can pay it. “Even if you were to assume he profited in the amount alleged, it’s clear he doesn’t have that kind of money,” Pelletier said.

The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.

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