Kerry Wills Sanctioned for Borrowing $150k, Accepting Luxury "Travel Gifts" From Elderly Customer

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FINRA fined and suspended First Western Securities (Manhattan Beach, California) broker Kerry Dean Wills for borrowing money and accepting a "gift" from a 90-year-old client, which Wills purportedly failed to disclose to the firm; the findings state that the customer—who later died—left a trust document that provided for loan forgiveness.

In AWC #2017056557101, investigators revealed that the customer in question became a client of Kerry D Wills (CRD #1353739) upon the death of that customer's husband. The findings state that after her spouse's death, "Customer A developed a close relationship with Wills" and that Wills borrowed $150,000 from this customer without ever disclosing the loan to the firm (First Western Securities, like many firms, generally prohibits borrowing from customers).

Despite certain brokers' propensities to prey on older or diminished-capacity investors, families of the deceased have started to fight back. For instance, the estate of one such deceased client of MML Investors Service (Irvine, CA) broker Nicholas Randolph Radke in 2018 filed a lawsuit alleging that Radke—since barred by FINRA—committed fraud and elder abuse.

Similar to Wills' $150,000 loan, Radke purportedly entered into a $250,000 promissory note with his elderly client, whom the lawsuit described as "a vulnerable person...old, in ill health and unable to take in and make meaningful decisions concerning his finance."

Radke's senior citizen customer subsequently died a mere 11 days after the promissory note's issuance. Furthermore, documents allege that a $250,000 check drawn on the decedent's account and payable to Radke was not negotiated until two days after the client had died. The suit seeks a full return of this questionable $250,000 note.

As for Wills, his elderly customer reportedly never cashed the one and only check drafted by Wills on the $150,000 loan—the first annual payment. In fact, FINRA found that when Wills' customer died six month later, she left a trust document providing for loan forgiveness.

In addition to the purportedly prohibited $150,000 loan, apparently subject to forgiveness due to the elderly client's death, Wills allegedly accepted $19,500 in gifts including airfare and international cruises from his 90-year-old customer, and similarly failed to disclose these gifts to First Western Securities.

Prior to joining First Western Securities in 2009, Wills was associated with Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Global Markets, both of El Segundo, CA.