Joel Flanigan (CRD#: 5664958), formerly a registered representative with NYLIFE Securities LLC (CRD#: 5167) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is currently involved in a pending customer dispute in which the plaintiff alleges that they were misled into investing in an unregistered security, according to his BrokerCheck record accessed on November 14, 2019.
Joel Flanigan’s troubles began on May 10, 2018, when he was terminated from NYLIFE Securities. It came after “allegations he was involved in the solicitation of New York Life (‘NYL’) clients to invest in an unregistered entity named Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund (‘Woodbridge’) …” He allegedly failed to disclose to his member firm that he was engaging in private securities transactions. This is known as “selling away” and is a violation of FINRA rules, as well as state and federal securities laws. For more information, see our article “A Comprehensive Guide to ‘Selling Away.’”
After his termination, Joel Flanigan faced disciplinary action from FINRA. On November 28, 2018, FINRA sent Joel Flanigan a Notice of Suspension. One month later, Joel Flanigan found himself involved in the first of a series of customer disputes.
- On January 2, 2019, a customer sought $45,000 in damages, alleging that he invested in “an unregistered and unsuitable product (American Alternative Investments) that was sold away from the Firm.” The matter was ultimately settled for $29,700, but not before Joel Flanigan found himself embroiled in a second dispute.
- On January 15, 2019, a client alleged that “beginning in or about 2016 unregistered, nonexempt securities in the form of Woodbridge Promissory Notes were sold to the decedent. Claimant alleges that the Promissory Notes along with an investment in FIP, LLC were unsuitable and inappropriate and that the risks were not disclosed resulting in a loss between $100,000.00 and $200,000.00.” The client requested $100,000 in damages, but the matter was settled for $85,000.
Brokers who engage in selling away often do so by offering promissory notes, which is exactly what happened in this alleged incident. Woodbridge later went bankrupt and was investigated by the SEC. On August 15, 2019, Robert Shapiro, the ringleader of Woodbridge Group of Companies was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in a $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme.
On February 28, 2019, according to Joel Flanigan’s BrokerCheck report, “Plaintiff alleges that material facts and the risks associated with an unregistered investment in Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund purchased in April 2017 were not disclosed. Plaintiff is seeking the return of his investment ($65,000) less any income received, plus 8% interest, costs and attorney’s fees.” The matter was ultimately settled for $37,500, but before the dispute was settled, FINRA issued a regulatory judgment against Joel Flanigan. On March 4, 2019, FINRA barred Joel Flanigan from the securities industry after he “failed to request termination of his suspension within three months of the date of the Notice of Suspension.”
You shouldn’t hesitate to come forward if Joel Flanigan was your broker and you suspect wrongdoing. If you have questions about the Woodbridge Group of Companies, which has been alleged to have been a Ponzi scheme, all (877) 238-4175 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for your free case consultation with the securities attorneys of Fitapelli Kurta.