Ronald Benevento, of Holbrook, New York, a stockbroker formerly registered with American Portfolio Financial Services, Inc., has been fined and suspended from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity based upon consenting to findings that he effected unsuitable mutual fund switches in customer accounts, and mismarked customers trades as unsolicited. Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent, No. 20130353695-01 (Aug. 4, 2015).

According to the AWC, twenty-nine switches of mutual fund holdings were recommended by Benevento to three customers despite Benevento failing to have an adequate basis in concluding that the switches were suitable for the customers. The AWC stated that customers received recommendations to sell Class A funds shortly after purchase, where they were advised to purchase other Class A funds. Evidently, customers suffered from high commissions and sales charges and ultimately sustained losses estimated at $45,000.00. FINRA found Benevento’s conduct to be violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 2111, as well as NASD Conduct Rule 2310 and IM-2310-2.

Moreover, the AWC stated that fifteen orders for trades were mismarked, wherein Benevento claimed that the trades were not solicited when they were. FINRA found that Benevento caused the records and books of the firm to be inaccurate in this respect. Consequently, FINRA found Benevento’s conduct to be violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 4511(a), as well as NASD Rule 3110.

FINRA Public Disclosure reveals that on January 15, 2014, a customer initiated investment related civil action involving Benevento’s conduct was settled for $150,000.00 in damages supported by allegations against Benevento of misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty in reference to direct investment products purchased by the customer. Subsequently, on May 28, 2014, another customer initiated investment related civil action pertaining to Benevento’s activities was settled for $430,000.00 in damages based upon allegations that Benevento made misrepresentations to the customer and negligently handled the customer’s investment portfolio concerning limited partnership interests effected in the customer’s investment account.

Benevento’s registration with American Portfolio Financial Services, Inc. was terminated on March 9, 2015.

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