Ex-Raymond James adviser barred over $1 million theft

Jo Ellen Fisher, an independent contractor with Raymond James Financial Services, allegedly stole $925,000 from a 95-year-old client to fund personal expenses, Finra says

Oct 3, 2014 @ 4:48 pm

By Mason Braswell

Finra has barred an independent financial adviser with Raymond James Financial Services Inc. who allegedly pocketed nearly $1 million in client funds last year, according to a settlement offer posted on the regulator's website.

From July to December 2013, Jo Ellen Fisher converted $924,750 from the trust of a 95-year-old customer by transferring — without authorization — securities and funds into a brokerage account under the name of Ms. Fisher's daughter, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. said.

Ms. Fisher liquidated securities and used the funds for personal expenses, including a 2014 Ford Explorer, three cars, a 2-carat diamond solitaire ring, a pearl necklace, two Rolexes, a mortgage and home repairs, Finra said.

Ms. Fisher was operating in Gallipolis, Ohio, as an employee of Peoples Bancorp, a bank with around 56 branches in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.

A spokesman for Peoples Bancorp, which shares revenue from brokerage operations with Raymond James, said that the affected client's accounts were all held with Raymond James and that the client did not have any money at the bank. He said the firm was cooperating with investigators and fired Ms. Fisher when it learned of her conduct.

Raymond James terminated Ms. Fisher's registration on May 30, Finra said.

Raymond James spokeswoman Anthea Penrose declined to comment. This summer, the firm filed a separate action in federal court seeking to recoup from Ms. Fisher the money it had reimbursed the client.

Ms. Fisher could not be reached. As part of the settlement, Ms. Fisher consented to the bar without admitting or denying the findings.

According to Finra, Ms. Fisher argued that the client was a godfather to Ms. Fisher's daughter and that he wanted the daughter to have the funds when she turned 21. Finra, however, accused Ms. Fisher of falsifying documents to that effect.

“[Ms.] Fisher provided the 'godparent's certificate' to the firm and to Finra to deceive the firm and Finra into believing that her daughter was, in fact, [the client's] goddaughter,” Finra wrote.

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