A former Wells Fargo advisor was arrested in Paramus, New Jersey, last week for allegedly stealing nearly $1 million from two elderly clients, according to the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.
Prosecutors accused Jeffrey Palish of fleecing the clients of more than $600,000 by selling their stock holdings over a four-year period. He purportedly transferred the money to an outside bank where prosecutors say the funds were remitted to him through checks written by one of the clients.
Palish also allegedly initiated some 40 unauthorized wire transfers from the clients' bank account to pay off his personal credit card debt. The unauthorized credit card payments totaled more than $300,000, authorities claim.
Prosecutors were tipped off to Palish's alleged theft in November when they learned that he failed to make payments on a $100,000 loan that he had received from the clients.
He used the funds for his own personal benefit and has not repaid or returned any of the money to the victims, prosecutors allege.
Palish, who is charged with one count of theft by deception, could not be reached for comment. He is scheduled to appear in court in Hackensack, New Jersey, on March 7.
Palish's arrest last Wednesday was followed on Friday with his expulsion from the industry by FINRA. The regulator accused Palish of receiving more than $180,000 from an elderly client over a three-year period beginning in or around 2015.
He accepted the money from the elderly woman with no intent or ability to repay her, FINRA alleged.
Palish agreed to the bar without admitting or denying FINRA's findings, according to his settlement with the regulator.
Palish worked for Wells Fargo from August 2010 to October 2017, when he was discharged for the alleged misconduct, BrokerCheck records show. He had previously been with Morgan Stanley.
"At Wells Fargo Advisors, we hold our advisors to the highest professional standards for putting our clients’ interests first," said Emily Acquisto, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, adding that the firm is cooperating fully with authorities. "In difficult situations such as this, we always work with the clients involved to resolve their account matters," she said.