FINRA fined and suspended broker John Edward Olinghouse, formerly of HD Vest and Fortune Financial Services in Sparks, Nevada, for falsifying forms, which he then submitted to HD Vest.
FINRA also cited Olinghouse for settling an elderly client's variable annuity-related customer complaint away from his firm without approval to do so. A related finding held that the elderly customer did not have the mental capacity to enter into agreements, leading to a Nevada Aging and Disability Services investigator's conclusion that Olinghouse "did not work ethically or in the favor of his clients while dispensing financial advice."
The findings state that Olinghouse falsified HD Vest's books and records by cutting out customer signatures from legitimate documents and pasting or taping the signatures onto different forms, and then photocopying these new forms, effectively concealing the cut-and-paste action.
In HD Vest's employment separation after allegations disclosure, the firm wrote that Olinghouse admitted to affixing inauthentic client signatures to certain documents submitted to the firm.
FINRA found that Olinghouse also altered information on forms that had already been signed by customers. For instance, investigators found that Olinghouse used white-out to adjust information on the already-signed forms, before submitting the improperly altered forms to his firm.
Furthermore, Olinghouse allegedly settled a complaint—itself alleging that Olinghouse had rendered improper financial advise—away from HD Vest, and without bringing the complaint to the attention of HD Vest. The report states that Olinghouse settled the complaint himself by executing a settlement document and writing a check for $5,000, all without the knowledge or approval of his firm.
According to Olinghouse's BrokerCheck report, the complaint concerned early withdrawal penalties from a variable annuity incurred as a result of "improper advice and counsel" rendered by Olinghouse. In it, investigators concluded that Olinghouse disregarded a professional evaluation of the client's "lack of mental capacity to enter into agreements."
FINRA's findings did not include any determination relative to the client's mental capacity to enter into a potential settlement agreement.
An investigator with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services' Aging and Disability Services Division stated that Olinghouse was not forthcoming with Elder Protective Services staff during its investigation, and furthermore found that Olinghouse "did not work ethically or in the favor of his clients while dispensing financial advice."
If you have invested with ex-HD Vest broker John Edward Olinghouse or with any financial adviser whose misuse, forgery, or alteration of your signature and/or forms and documents has proven harmful to your investments or interests due to the submission of inaccurate information, or who has improperly attempted to settle a customer complaint away from the firm, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for investigation and consultation.