Ohio Broker Banned by FINRA Continues to Operate

Kevin O’Brien, formerly associated with Robert W. Baird & Company, Inc., was permanently barred from working in the securities industry by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in 2008 but he has continued to operate his own investment advisory service, according to the Ohio Securities Division and Investment News. The Ohio regulators have said that they intend to file a cease and desist order against the banned broker. Apparently, Mr. O’Brien has been operating O’Brien Private Wealth Management LLC despite his having been barred from the industry by FINRA. O’Brien has 30 days to respond to the cease and desist order so time will tell the result.

Obrien Private Wealth Filed an application with the state of Ohio for an investment adviser firm license on September 17, 2008, the very same day he was banned from the industry by FINRA. According to state records, the firm was going to provide “financial planning services, portfolio management for individuals and businesses, and pension consulting services.” The application was withdrawn in December 2008.

While at Robert Baird, FINRA claimed that O’Brien stole over $300,000 from Ross Brooks, one of his customers who later committed suicide in July 2010. He was later fired by Baird and he lost his adviser license, in addition to being barred from the industry. Notwithstanding that, O’Brien continued to solicit former Baird customers from September 2008 until February 2010, ultimately getting 15 to sign up with his firm. Additionally, he filed 21 powers of attorney with Charles Schwab Bank on behalf of those clients, giving him the authority to access the clients’ bank accounts and trade information, according to the regulators.

Although Mr. O’Brien vehemently denied providing investment advice after 2008, the Ohio authorities said that a husband and wife paid him $800 for financial advice. The couple said that he never told them that he was no longer with Robert Baird or that he was not licensed to give investment advice in Ohio, according to the complaint.

Ironically, O’Brien was elected to a 4 year term as Anderson Township Trustee in November 2009, where he and two others oversaw the town finances, including the police and fire departments and roadway funding. When it was learned that O’Brien had been barred from the securities industry, he was forced by a group of citizens to buy a $25,000 bond, which was far more than the $10,000 bond for other trustees. An attorney for the township has requested that he resign because of the allegations made against him that resulted in his termination and being banned, since his past ought to raise suspicions.

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