FINRA moved swiftly to bar a former bank advisor who last month set off a massive four-day search in the Atlantic Ocean after staging his disappearance at sea.

Richard Ohrn, 44, a former broker with Chase Investment Services and Wells Fargo Advisors in Boca Raton, Fla., went missing on March 31, after renting a boat that was later found unmanned and adrift in the ocean, some six miles from Boynton Beach, according to the police report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

As announced in the sheriff's advisory, Ohrn admitted to planning and carrying out his disappearance to escape legal issues, including a civil complaint filed against him by FINRA.  In the complaint, FINRA alleged that Ohrn had stolen $15,250 from two elderly customers of Chase Investment Services, where he worked as a broker from July 2009 to June 2011. 

Ohrn, who was missing for nearly two weeks, called authorities on April 12, just as detectives were closing in on him, saying that he was at his home in Boca Raton. He explained that after renting a 19-foot Sea Ray vessel, he navigated to a nearby park to pick up an inflatable boat and motor that he later used to return to shore. Once on land, he dropped the inflatable boat off at his friend’s office building and drove to Albany, Ga., where he stayed in a rental house before returning home, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. 

The reckoning he desperately sought to dodge was swift. On April 28, sixteen days after resurfacing, Ohrn was officially barred from the industry by FINRA. In his settlement with the regulator, Ohrn neither admitted nor denied the allegations but consented to an entry of FINRA's findings.

Ohrn did not respond to a message left with a receptionist at Freedom Equity Group, where Ohrn is listed as working, according to his BrokerCheck report. He did not return an email sent to him via BrightScope Advisor Pages, an online directory for bank advisors.

In addition to allegedly stealing $15,250 from two 80-plus-year-old customers of Chase Investment Services, FINRA accused Ohrn of forging the signatures of four brokerage customers on nine separate documents and falsifying the firm's books and records by changing the account address of record for three customers from their respective home addresses to the address of the branch where Ohrn worked.

FINRA also charged Ohrn with violating rules while employed at Wells Fargo Advisors from June 2011 to August 2012. FINRA claimed that he guaranteed a Wells Fargo customer against a $9,000 loss she incurred as a result of the early surrender of her variable annuity contract issued by Ohio National Life Insurance Co.

Ohrn was dismissed from Wells Fargo in August 2012 for providing inconsistent explanations concerning a cashier's check issued to a customer, according to BrokerCheck. 

In the police report, Ohrn's wife said that Wells Fargo was suing them for $400,000.  When Ohrn left Wells Fargo, he had signed a contract agreeing not to take any of his clients with him for seven years, an agreement that he allegedly broke, according to the police report.

Ohrn had filed a $2 million lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Chase in February 2013, charging his former employer with what he claimed was essentially a smear campaign. Ohrn alleged that the bank had falsely accused him of stealing money from customers in retaliation for reporting inappropriate workplace behavior between a manager and a young subordinate. In it, he blames Chase for his later dismissal from Wells Fargo, claiming that customer complaints instigated by Chase caused heightened scrutiny of his sales practices at Wells Fargo and were the proximate cause for his dismissal.

The lawsuit dragged on for 21 months and was settled in November 2014 without going to trial. 

Michael Fusco, a spokesperson for Chase Wealth Management, and Anthony Mattera, a spokesperson for Wells Fargo Advisors, declined to comment, as did Michelle Ong, a spokesperson for FINRA.

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