Sonn Law Group Investigating Claims Involving Michael J. Howard

Sonn Law Group is investigating claims regarding Michael John Howard (CRD #2966446, Frankfort, Illinois). Howard recently submitted an Acceptance, Waiver & Consent (“AWC”) in which he was assessed a deferred fine of $15,000 and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for five months. See FINRA Case #2014040039001. The suspension is in effect from July 6, 2015 to December 5, 2015. Howard was associated with Wayne Hummer Investments, LLC, from September 2009 until his termination in January 2014. The Form U-5 filed by Wayne Hummer Investments terminate Howard’s registration with the firm states that “Mr. Howard was found to have an outside business activity without disclosing, seeking or obtaining firm approval in violation of FINRA Rule 3270 and firm policy.” From August 2008 until September 2011, Howard was associated with AccessAlpha Worldwide, LLC.

FINRA found that from April 2009 to November 2013 Howard provided financial advisory services to a personal friend who was not a customer of the broker-dealers and received approximately $20,000 in compensation. FINRA also found that Howard falsely stated on a compliance questionnaire that he was not engaged in any outside business activities. FINRA further found that Howard participated in a private securities transaction without seeking or obtaining firm approval by entering into a written agreement with an individual whereby the individual loaned him $157,191 to purchase a real property tax lien certificate, the Cortland Certificate, that they later attempted to sell for a profit. In entering into the AWC, Howard neither admitted nor denied FINRA’s findings.

FINRA Rule 3280, formerly NASD Rule 3040, provides that a broker may only sell securities with the knowledge and approval of his or her firm. When a broker sells securities without processing the order through the firm and without the firm’s permission or knowledge, this violates FINRA rules and is known as “selling away.” Federal and state law define securities broadly. Therefore, even products such as leasing arrangements or promissory notes, may be securities which require firm approval. Selling away often involves investment securities that are in the form of a private placement or other non-public investment.

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, AccessAlpha or Wayne Hummer Investments may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by Howard’s customers.

If you were a client of AccessAlpha Worldwide, Wayne Hummer Investments, or Howard, and have suffered investment losses or financial irregularities or invested in promissory notes, real estate, or limited partnerships, 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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