Stockbroker, investment adviser, and radio personality Jaime Westenbarger of Grand Rapids, Michigan has been discharged from his position as a registered representative of Securities America and is being investigated by the firm in connection with possible misappropriation of customer funds. The firm has sent letters to potentially affected customers asking them to review their account statements for unauthorized transfers. It is unclear from the letters whether Securities America intends to offer full or partial refunds to customers if assets have in fact been misappropriated.
Before accepting any offer of settlement, customers should consult with an attorney to ensure that they are getting a fair settlement. In making that determination, customers should keep in mind that brokerage firms like Securities America can be held vicariously liable for the bad acts of their representatives. See As You Sow v. AIG Financial Advisors, Inc., 584 F. Supp. 2d 1034 (M.D. Tenn. 2008) (“Federal courts that have held that broker-dealers are liable under principles of respondeat superior where their affiliated agents steal client’s money. A contrary rule would cause injury unfair to the investing public. . . . Broker dealers may not enjoy the benefits of their relationships with affiliated agents without discharging their supervisory duties[.]”) (citing Henricksen v. Henricksen, 640 F.2d 880, 887 (7th Cir.1981), cert denied, 454 U.S. 1097, 102 S.Ct. 669, 70 L.Ed.2d 637 (1981); Alvarado v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Inc., 448 F.Supp.2d 333 (D.P.R.2006)).
Another firm that could be held liable if Westenbarger has in fact misappropriated funds is Forest Hills Financial (“FHF”), the Grand-Rapids based advisory firm that Westenbarger helped to found in the mid 2000s. Westenbarger was removed from the firm’s website this week. He was previously listed on the site as the firm’s President and CEO.
If you suffered losses as a result of the malpractice or misconduct of Jaime Westenbarger, the experienced securities law attorneys at Mika Meyers, PLC may be able to assist you in recovering some or all of your losses. Call us toll-free at 888-607-4819 for a free consultation or send us an email message through our “Contact” page to schedule a consultation.