FINRA barred former JP Turner & Company, LLC broker Neil Copeland Winterrowd of Coto de Caza, California for allegedly misappropriating $1.5 million from multiple customers for personal use and without their knowledge or consent.
In accepting FINRA'S discipline, Winterrowd did not admit or deny any of FINRA'S findings.
FINRA charged that Winterrowd effected the misappropriation of funds through a series of withdrawals to Annuity Investment Group, owned and controlled by Winterrowd and which shared the same Irvine, CA mailing address as Winterrowd.
The FINRA findings state the misconduct began in August 2009, when Winterrowd completed withdrawal request forms for two variable annuity ("VA") contracts. The investigation found that after the customer signed the forms, believing that by surrendering the two contracts would result in receiving approximately $160,000 in proceeds, Winterrowd instead indicated Annuity Investment Group as the payee of both surrendered contracts. As a result, Winterrowd spent "a significant portion" of the $160,000 in funds for personal benefit.
FINRA also found that in August 2009, one of Winterrowd's customers died, leaving the customer's spouse as sole beneficiary of a VA contract's death benefit. In September, Winterrowd allegedly submitted a request for lump sum payment, again indicating Annuity Investment Group as the payee. Investigators concluded Winterrowd again converted and then spent "the vast majority" of these funds for personal use.
In December 2009, according to FINRA, Winterrowd completed another withdrawal request form on behalf of a customer for multiple VA contracts, again designating Annuity Investment Group as payee such that the insurance company mailed checks to Winterrowd's Irvine address. Between March 2010 and January 2011, Winterrowd allegedly submitted 10 additional withdrawal requests indicating Annuity Investment Group as the payee. The total value of these converted funds was over $1 million, of which Winterrowd allegedly spent "the vast majority" for personal use.
FINRA'S allegations state that in April 2011, Winterrowd withrew $125,000 from one customer's VA contract under the auspices of funding a different annuity contract with another insurance company. Instead, FINRA concluded that Winterrowd converted the funds for personal use.
The misappropriation between August 2009 and September 2011 therefore totaled approximately $1.5 million, resulting in FINRA's decision to permanently banish Winterrowd from the securities industry.
In 2008, the Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates successfully tried an arbitration case against former Coto de Caza broker Hitomi Tsuyuki, who FINRA determined had defrauded investors by soliciting and misappropriating funds. In addition to an award of $371,438.01, Tsuyuki was charged with 200 felony counts related to his scheme and was ultimately sentenced to 18 years in prison.
If you invested with Neil Copeland Winterrowd or believe a broker, firm or financial professional has misappropriated your funds or engaged in other misconduct that 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.