Law & Justice

$100,000 Civil Penalty Filed Against Livingston Broker Who Defrauded Elderly Couple

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NEWARK, NJ — A Livingston broker’s agent registration will be revoked and he will receive an imposition of $100,000 in civil monetary penalties against him and his company NJLI Advisors L.L.C. after defrauding an elderly couple of at least $280,000, according to Attorney General Gubrir Grewal and the New Jersey Bureau of Securities within the Division of Consumer Affairs.

According to their announcement, Michael Alan Siegel befriended the elderly couple, who were in their 80s, ingratiating himself to them while they were dealing with a significant health issue within the family. Siegel spent hours each week with the elderly husband discussing the stock market, according to the attorney general’s office.

Shortly after the death of a family member, the elderly couple was convinced to transfer their brokerage accounts to a broker-dealer with whom Siegel was associated. In the Summary Penalty and Revocation Order issued by the bureau on Feb. 1, the bureau chief found that Siegel convinced the couple to write him checks to invest in options contracts, which he never purchased. He pocketed the couple’s money and spent it on travel for him and his family members, high-end audio equipment and restaurants.

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“The behavior outlined by the Bureau in this case is outrageous and infuriating,” said Grewal. “Taking advantage of an elderly couple during a time when they most need help and empathy is disgusting. The bureau did the right thing by making sure this agent never has the ability to con people again under the guise of being a securities agent.”

Sharon M. Joyce, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said that registered securities agents are entrusted with hard-earned money of their clients. She added that violations like this “must be met with the strongest possible penalties”

According to the bureau chief, it was discovered that Siegel exploited his relationship with the couple between July 2013 and January 2016 by having them write personal checks to him for the purported options investments and commissions for the purported investments. Siegel also violated the policies of procedures of two broker-dealers that he was associated with by accepting checks, loans and gifts from the elderly couple who had accounts with the two firms, according to the bureau.

When the husband died, Siegel continued to direct the elderly widow to write him checks for purported options investments and commissions. According to the attorney general’s office, the widow relied on Siegel for financial decisions and entrusted him with access to her email account, bank accounts and passwords.

“The financial exploitation of seniors commonly involve a trusted persons in the life of the vulnerable adult,” said Christopher W. Gerold, Chief of the Bureau of Securities. “If someone suspects the financial exploitation of a senior or vulnerable adult, it is important to ask questions and report the matter to the Bureau.”

Among some of the other discoveries of the bureau chief were that the couple paid for a lease and insurance on a vehicle for Siegel, which he was required to but did not report to the broker-dealer with which he was associated; the widow co-signed on a lease for another vehicle for Siegel’s daughter and made at least one payment toward that lease, which Siegel was required to but did not report to another broker-dealer with which he was associated; and that Siegel not only deposited funds into personal accounts, but also deposited funds into the accounts of NJLI Advisors, L.L.C., of which Siegel was listed as the sole owner, officer and director.

These actions were handled by Deputy Bureau Chief Amy Kopleton, Director of Complex Investigations Peter Cole and Investigator Theresa Hendricks of the Bureau of Securities, within the Division of Consumer Affairs. The bureau thanked Deputy Attorneys General Isabella Stempler and Nicholas Dolinsky of the Securities Fraud Prosecution Section in the Division of Law for their assistance in this matter.

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