Sonn|Erez Investigating Claims Involving Former Wells Fargo Broker Randall Girton

Sonn Law Group is investigating claims regarding Randall Layne Girton (CRD #5807758, Orland Park, Illinois). Girton recently submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (“AWC”) in which he was assessed a deferred fine of $12,500, which includes disgorgement of commissions received of $5,165, and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for three months. See FINRA Case #2013038861801. Girton was registered with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (August 2010-February 2012) and then Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC (April 2012-November 2013). The Form U-5 filed by Wells Fargo to terminate Girton’s registration with the firm stated he was discharged, because he “acknowledged that he placed trades in a client’s account without speaking to the client prior to each trade.”

In its investigation, FINRA found that Girton made an unsuitable recommendation to a customer. In particular, FINRA found that Girton recommended that a customer liquidate all of her holdings, including recently purchased Class A mutual fund shares, and invest the proceeds in a proprietary investment advisory program offered by Wells Fargo, without a reasonable basis to believe that his recommendation was suitable. FINRA also found that there had been no material changes in the customer’s investment profile during the short time between her initial purchase of the Class A shares and Girton’s recommendation to liquidate them. The move of the customer’s assets into the proprietary investment advisory program caused her to incur additional fees and charges. FINRA further found that several months later, Girton recommended that the customer move her assets out of the proprietary investment advisory program and reinvest them in Class A mutual fund shares, again incurring substantial up-front fees and charges. Girton exercised discretion in connection with approximately 100 trades in the customer’s account without obtaining the customer’s written authorization to exercise discretion and without his firm’s acceptance of the customer’s account as discretionary, according to FINRA. In entering into the AWC, Girton neither admitted nor denied FINRA’s findings.

Pursuant to FINRA Rules, member firms are responsible for supervising a broker’s activities during the time the broker is registered with the firm. Therefore, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney or Wells Fargo Advisors may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by Girton’s customers.

If you were a client of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Wells Fargo Advisors, or Girton, and have suffered investment losses or financial irregularities, please contact Sonn Law Group to explore your legal options. Sonn Law Group is a nationally recognized law firm representing individuals, trusts, corporations and institutions in claims against brokerage firms, banks and insurance companies. To learn more, please call us at 844-689-5754 or complete our “contact form.”

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