Giustino DeStefano (also known as Justin Antonio DeStefano) of Williamsville New York a stockbroker formerly employed by Merrill Lynch and Securities America is the subject of a customer initiated investment related arbitration claim which was settled for $485,000.00 in damages supported by allegations of elder abuse and the violation of California Securities Act. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Arbitration No. 18-04148 (Dec. 16, 2019).
According to the claim, a fiduciary duty that was owed to the customer had been breached. A contract between the customer and Merrill Lynch or Securities America had allegedly been violated. The claim also indicated that aggressive and unsuitable stock and over the counter equities trades were effected in the customer’s account and that the customer had been defrauded because of DeStefano.
FINRA Public Disclosure reveals that DeStefano has been identified in seven additional customer initiated investment related disputes concerning accusations of his wrongdoing while employed by securities broker dealers including Merrill Lynch and Securities America Inc. On March 7, 2017, a customer filed an investment related complaint involving DeStefano’s activities in which the customer requested unspecified damages based upon allegations that the stockbroker’s investment recommendations failed to be suitable for the customer.
On October 27, 2017, another customer initiated investment related complaint regarding DeStefano’s activities was resolved for $35,000.00 in damages founded on accusations that equity trades were effected in the Merrill Lynch customer’s account on an excessive basis. DeStefano is also referenced in a customer initiated investment related written complaint which was settled on December 13, 2017 for $13,998.76 in damages supported by allegations of transactions that were neither suitable for the customer nor executed with the customer’s knowledge or consent when DeStefano was associated with Securities America.
DeStefano is the subject of another customer initiated investment related arbitration claim which was resolved for $525,000.00 in damages based upon accusations that a fiduciary duty that was owed to the Securities America and Merrill Lynch customer had been breached and that the customer’s account was exposed to the stockbroker’s negligence. FINRA Arbitration No. 17-02334 (Feb. 8, 2019). According to the claim, the customer’s account had been unsuitably concentrated in stock. The claim also alleges that unauthorized stock and over the counter equities trades were executed in the customer’s account during the time that DeStefano was associated with Merrill Lynch.
Another customer filed an investment related arbitration claim concerning DeStefano’s conduct where the customer sought $1,000,000.00 in damages founded on allegations of the violation of FINRA rules and federal securities laws in regard to the Securities America and Merrill Lynch customer’s investments in direct participation programs or limited partnerships along with speculative stocks and real estate securities. FINRA Arbitration No. 19-01311 (June 26, 2019). Transactions were allegedly made without the customer’s knowledge or consent and were unsuitable for the customer given the customer’s tolerance for risk. The claim also alleges that misrepresentations were made by the stockbroker concerning a speculative investment strategy and that the customer had been defrauded.
FINRA Public Disclosure additionally confirms that DeStefano has been fined $10,000.00 and suspended from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity supported by findings that transactions were effected in customer accounts without permission from Merrill Lynch customers. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2014041504101 (Mar. 9, 2016). According to the AWC, the stockbroker did not get written permission from customers to make discretionary trades in their accounts. The regulator also noted that DeStefano falsely marked 100 order tickets as unsolicited transactions when the stockbroker had solicited those trades instead of the customers. The AWC stated that DeStefano violated NASD Conduct Rule 2510 as well as FINRA Rules 2010 and 4511.