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Ex-LPL advisor barred over alleged theft of elderly client’s funds

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FINRA has barred a former LPL advisor for allegedly stealing $7,400 from an elderly client, according to the advisor’s recent settlement with FINRA.

The regulator claimed that Bradley Gardner, an advisor with LPL in Fort Bragg, California, accepted a $7,400 personal check from the client on the pretense that he would pre-pay the fees on her three advisory accounts. Instead, he deposited her check into his bank account and used the funds to pay for his personal expenses, FINRA alleged.
Gardner purportedly told the client that she could pre-pay the fees at a discount, claiming that once he received her check he would “turn off” the fees until March 2019, according to FINRA.

He accepted the check in June 2017 but LPL continued to charge the client the fees associated with her advisory accounts, FINRA said.

Gardner reimbursed the client the $7,400 when LPL discovered the alleged misconduct.

The regulator scolded Gardner for violating LPL’s written supervisory procedures prohibiting reps from accepting checks from their clients made payable directly to them. LPL also prohibited its advisors from taking custody, control or possession of any customer funds outside the parameters of their LPL practice, FINRA said.

Gardner could not be reached for comment. He agreed to the bar without admitting or denying the allegations against him.

While at LPL, Gardner worked for RIA firms Golden State Wealth Management and Redwood Investment Group, which are entities for LPL business, according to Gardner’s BrokerCheck report.

He was with LPL from February 2012 to October 2017, when he voluntarily resigned following allegations that he accepted a client check made payable to himself, BrokerCheck records show.

LPL did not return an email seeking comment.

Gardner joins a growing list of reps barred this year for allegedly stealing money from their clients. John Douglas Wade, a former U.S. Bank broker, for example, was barred this month for purportedly embezzling more than $105,000 from two elderly clients to pay his mortgage. His expulsion followed that of Jeffrey Palish, a former Wells Fargo advisor who was barred in February after his arrest in Paramus, New Jersey, for allegedly defrauding two seniors out of nearly $1 million.

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