Ex-Stifel advisor defrauded widow, spent funds on vacation home: SEC

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An ex-Stifel advisor allegedly defrauded an elderly widow of more than $450,000, spending her money on a vacation home, groceries and other expenses for himself, according to the SEC.

The regulator filed a legal complaint earlier this month in a federal court in Colorado and ordered Steven Rodemer to pay a civil penalty of more than $385,000. A federal judge barred him from the industry on Sept. 7, according to the final judgment order.

Rodemer could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Jeff Thomas, did not respond to two requests for comment. He has since returned the misappropriated funds to the client, according to the SEC’s complaint.

The woman Rodemer allegedly defrauded, who was not named in the SEC’s complaint, had been a long-time client of the ex-advisor, and had “developed a relationship of trust and confidence” in him, according to the regulator.

Beginning in 2012, Rodemer allegedly began to withdraw funds from her brokerage and bank accounts shortly after becoming her power of attorney. He withdrew funds by writing checks made out to himself, according to the SEC.

Rodemer used much of the funds for his own personal expenses, paying for bills including construction and maintenance on his vacation home in Breckenridge, Colorado, and funding an undisclosed brokerage account in his wife’s name, according to the regulator.

In 2018, Rodemer started using the client’s savings to pay bills at gas stations, grocery and hardware stores — even withdrawing cash from the ATM and paying for personal credit card bills.

In total, he took at least $451,889 from the elderly woman’s accounts — a “significant percentage” of her overall assets, the regulator says.

Stifel terminated Rodemer at the beginning of January, after determining he had taken money from a client account for “personal use” without authorization, according to a note from the firm contained in the ex-broker’s BrokerCheck record.

During Stifel’s investigation of the ex-advisor, Rodemer had his client sign a statement he prepared, saying he had discussed these withdrawals with her, according to the SEC.

The regulator claims the statement only included some of the transactions, and “not the dozens of instances” he had misappropriated her funds since 2012.

FINRA barred Rodemer from the industry in March after he “refused to provide on-the-record testimony” in the regulator’s investigation over the matter, according to BrokerCheck.

Rodemer’s client, who resided in an assisted living center in Centennial, Colorado, passed away in February, according to the regulator.

A Stifel spokesman declined to comment on the SEC’s charges against its former broker.

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SEC SEC enforcement Securities fraud Stifel Financial Regional BDs Compliance