Fired Securities America advisor under federal scrutiny

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A former Securities America financial advisor is facing a federal criminal investigation after the firm fired him over allegations of misappropriation of client assets.

The Ladenburg Thalmann independent broker-dealer discharged Hector May of New City, New York-based Executive Compensation Planners on March 9, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. A day earlier, the U.S. Department of Justice disclosed a probe of the politically connected local business leader.

The scope and nature of the investigation were not immediately clear, but allegations of misuse of client money often result in fraud charges. Last month, for example, former advisors pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with a $1 million scam in Louisiana and a $3 million Ponzi scheme in North Dakota.

The Justice Department is “conducting an official criminal investigation of a suspected felony,” according to the disclosure on May’s BrokerCheck file.

May, 77, didn’t respond to requests for comment placed at his practice, which is located in Rockland County, roughly 40 miles north of New York City.

Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, declined to comment. The office does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation, he says.

Joseph Kuo, a spokesman for Securities America, also declined to comment. “Securities America is fully cooperating with law enforcement and regulatory agencies, but as a matter of policy, we do not comment on ongoing regulatory and legal matters,” he wrote in an email.

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May worked on the transition team of the current Rockland County Executive Ed Day in 2013 and is a close friend of the Deputy County Executive Guillermo Rosa, according to The Journal News, which first reported the federal probe. May resigned in late March from the board of the Rockland Business Association.

“The Hector May that I know is a man who has given a lot to this community, the Hispanic community, people in need,” Al Samuels, the executive director of the business association, told the local newspaper. “He’s done wonderful things for the business community in Rockland County.”

His practice’s RIA listed $23.8 million in assets under management across 61 advisory accounts in its last SEC Form ADV from June 2017. The firm noted four employees, including one registered BD representative, and between 26 and 100 advisory clients.

The firm’s website says it’s under construction, but a cached version still accessible online this week describes it as a benefits advisory and financial planning firm.

The firm’s goal is “to offer the highest quality of financial services and products to our clients,” an introduction on the website says. “We exemplify the highest standard of business ethics and integrity while providing a broad range of personalized financial services.”

May had first aligned with Securities America back in 1994, BrokerCheck shows. He worked with the suburban Omaha, Nebraska-based IBD for 24 years in the course of his 44-year career in financial services.

Prior to the federal probe and his termination, May’s only other disclosure came in 1992. He paid a $2,500 fine after the New York State Insurance Department accused him of selling five fixed life insurance policies from an unlicensed insurance firm.

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Compliance Independent BDs Independent advisors Enforcement Fraud Securities fraud Financial crimes Securities America Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services U.S. Attorneys Office