The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) suspended broker and notary public Rochelle Anne Leininger of Danville, California for 90 days, and fined her $5,000 for unknowingly notarizing forged documents. Leininger accepted and consented to FINRA's findings and discipline.
According to FINRA, in 2007 and while registered with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., a former colleague requested that Leininger, in her capacity as a notary public, notarize third party customer signatures on three life insurance loan request documents.
FINRA found that Leininger notarized all three documents and verified that all customer signatures were accurate, despite none of the customers being present when Leininger notarized the documents.
Unbeknownst to Leininger, her colleague had forged all signatures presented on the loan request documents.
FINRA found that after Leininger improperly notarized the documents, she faxed them to the Hartford Life Insurance Company, which processed the loan requests and transferred the borrowed funds to the former colleague. That colleague misappropriated the money, while the affected customers remained unaware that money had been removed from their life insurance policies.
Accordingly, FINRA found that by notarizing the signatures of persons who did not appear before her, Leininger violated NASD Rule 2110, the FINRA provision that requires registered members to observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principals of trade.
If you have been the victim forgery or you believe your broker or brokerage firm failed to observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principals of trade and such failure has proven harmful to your investments or interests, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.