FINRA Bars Broker for Converting and Improperly Using More Than $500,000 from a Catholic Nun's Holdings, Another $80,000 from Three Elderly Customers
Victims Have Received Restitution from Broker, Legg Mason and Citigroup
Washington, D.C. — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has barred broker William Joseph Boyle from the securities industry for wrongfully converting and using funds from customer accounts and for failing to cooperate with FINRA investigators. Boyle's misconduct occurred both while he was working for Legg Mason Wood Walker, which was acquired by Citigroup in 2006, and at Citigroup.
FINRA found that Boyle deceived a 64-year-old nun into giving him two separate checks totaling approximately $531,000, which she believed would be deposited into accounts for her benefit. Instead, Boyle deposited one check into his personal joint bank account and the second into a mutual fund account held in his name. Boyle similarly persuaded a retired couple and an elderly widow to give him additional checks totaling approximately $80,000 — which he again deposited into his own accounts, using the funds for his own benefit.
"FINRA is committed to identifying and expelling anyone under our jurisdiction who preys on the trust and goodwill of his customers, particularly vulnerable customers like seniors," said Susan L. Merrill, FINRA Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement.
The nun inherited approximately $532,000 in mutual fund holdings when her mother died. Because she has taken a vow of poverty, the nun had intended for the money to go to her religious order. The nun's mother held an account at Legg Mason and Boyle was the broker who handled the mother's account. In October 2004, shortly after her mother's death, the nun opened an account with Boyle at Legg Mason and transferred the mutual fund holdings into that account. When Boyle recommended another investment later that month, a portion of her mutual fund holdings was sold and a $125,000 check was mailed to her from Legg Mason. Boyle instructed the nun to sign the check and mail it back to him. Without the nun's knowledge, Boyle then deposited the $125,000 into his own personal joint bank account and used these funds for his own benefit.
In 2005, Boyle proposed investing the nun's remaining assets in a tax exempt fund held outside of the firm. Boyle arranged for the sale of the remaining mutual fund holdings in the nun's account. He then instructed the nun to execute a Letter of Authorization, created by Boyle, which instructed Legg Mason to take the cash resulting from the sale of the mutual fund positions together with existing cash in the account and issue a check payable to a mutual fund company in the amount of $406,013.89. This amount represented all of the nun's remaining assets held in her account. Without her knowledge, the funds were deposited into an account at the mutual fund company that was controlled by Boyle. Boyle used these funds for his own benefit, including funding International Sports Management LLC, an entity Boyle founded and used to market his financial services to aspiring professional athletes.
FINRA found that in 2006, Boyle convinced a retired couple to invest $50,000 in an outside real estate venture. Boyle liquidated mutual fund holdings in the couple's Citigroup account and arranged for Citigroup to send them a $50,000 check. Boyle instructed the couple to issue a separate check from their personal checking account held outside of Citigroup made payable to Boyle's firm, International Sports Management. The retired husband, 81, was a former air traffic controller and his wife, 75, a former nurse. Despite their belief that they were investing in a real estate product, Boyle used the money for his own benefit without their knowledge.
FINRA further found that in 2007, a retired 83-year-old widow gave Boyle a check for $30,000 for the specific purpose of depositing the check into her Citigroup brokerage account. Instead, Boyle deposited the $30,000 check into International Sports Management's account and used the money for his own benefit without the widow's knowledge.
FINRA received information regarding Boyle's misconduct in November 2007. At about that time, Boyle refunded $50,000 to the retired couple. Of the approximately $531,000 that Boyle received from the nun, he refunded approximately $39,000. Although neither Legg Mason nor Citigroup was a party to this action, Legg Mason reimbursed the nun for the remainder of the money that Boyle had misappropriated and Citigroup reimbursed $30,000 to the elderly widow.
In settling this matter Boyle neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.
Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA's BrokerCheck. FINRA makes BrokerCheck available at no charge. In 2008, members of the public used this service to conduct 11.6 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999.
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