March – April 2014 Disciplinary Actions

William Jeffrey Austin (WBB Securitiies, Redlands, California) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which he was fined $7,500 and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for 30 business days. The fine must be paid either immediately upon Austin’s reassociation with a FINRA member firm following his suspension, or prior to the filing of any application or request for relief from any statutory disqualification, whichever is earlier. Without admitting or denying the findings, Austin consented to the described sanctions and to the entry of findings that he exercised discretion in a customer account without obtaining the customer’s written authorization or his firm’s acceptance of the account as discretionary.

The findings stated that Austin’s firm did not allow discretionary trading in customer accounts and did not accept the customer’s accounts as discretionary. Austin provided a response on firm compliance questionnaires in which he falsely attested that he did not exercise discretionary authority over client accounts. The suspension was in effect from February 18, 2014, through March 31, 2014. (FINRA Case #2012031890301 )

Matthew Alan Trulli (Foothill Securities, Visalia, California) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which he was suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for one year. In light of Trulli’s financial status, no monetary sanction has been imposed. Without admitting or denying the findings, Trulli consented to the described sanction and to the entry of findings that he borrowed a total of approximately $197,500 from his member firm’s customers. The loans were documented with promissory notes. The loans that have reached their maturity date have not been repaid in full. The findings stated that Trulli’s firm prohibited its representatives from participating in borrowing transactions with customers under any circumstances. Trulli provided false information in response to two firm outside business activity reports regarding receiving loans from customers. The suspension is in effect from February 18, 2014, through February 17, 2015. ( FINRA Case #2012032304201)

Michelle Lee Kern (aka Michelle Lee Mertena) (Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., Roseville/Sacramento, California) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which she was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. Without admitting or denying the findings, Kern consented to the described sanction and to the entry of findings that she unlawfully converted to her own use approximately $569,000 from customers’ brokerage accounts through unauthorized electronic withdraws and used the funds to pay her personal credit card bills. The findings stated that Kern also unlawfully converted approximately $100,000 from customers by using their checkbooks to write unauthorized checks to herself, and then used the funds to pay her personal credit card bills. Some of the customers were elderly. Kern accepted the checkbooks from the customers to destroy, and instead of destroying them, she forged their signatures and wrote personal checks to herself for approximately $100,000, and then deposited the funds into her personal checking account. Kern forged the customer signatures to create the false impression that the customers had authorized the deposit of checks into her personal checking account. ( FINRA Case #2013035458501)