The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. recently announced that it has ordered David Lerner & Associates to pay $12 million in restitution to clients who bought shares of a nontraded real estate investment trust known as Apple REIT 10. Finra also fined David Lerner Associates more than $2.3 million for charging unfair prices on municipal bonds and collateralized mortgage obligations.
In addition, the Syosset, N.Y.-based firm’s founder and chief executive, David Lerner, was fined $250,000 and suspended from the securities industry for one year, followed by a two-year suspension from acting as a firm’s principal.
David Lerner Associates and Mr. Lerner neither admitted nor denied the charges around the sale of the products but consented to the entry of Finra’s findings, the regulator said in a statement issued Monday morning.
David Lerner Associates has been a longtime seller of nontraded REITs, which do not trade on exchanges but rather are held by investors for a number of years and collect dividends over the investments’ lifetime. Over the past 20 years, the firm sold roughly $7 billion of Apple REITs.
The fine and restitution put to bed two long-running Finra investigations into the firm, which has 190 registered reps and six branches in the New York tri-state area and Florida. The brokerage is noted for its radio ads which ask listeners to “Take a tip from Poppy.”
The first action against the firm stemmed from a 2011 Finra complaint. Finra alleged that the firm engaged in improper sales practices of the $2 billion Apple REIT 10. Between January and December 2011, David Lerner Associates allegedly recommended and sold more than $442 million of Apple REIT 10 without performing adequate due diligence in violation of its suitability obligations. The firm has been the lone seller of the series of Apple REITs, which invest primarily in two national chains of extended-stay hotels.
In 2010, Finra alleged that Lerner charged excessive markups and/or otherwise failed to meet its obligation to provide a fair and reasonable price at the time of the transaction on thousands of municipal bond transactions.
The White Law Group has been investigating these same actions for more than a year and continues to advise investors on their litigation options.
If you purchased Apple REITs from David Lerner and are interested in exploring your litigation options, please call the securities attorneys of The White Law Group at 312/238-9650 for a free consultation.
The White Law Group is a national securities fraud, securities arbitration, and investor protection law firm with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Boca Raton, Florida.
For more information on The White Law Group, visit http://www.whitesecuritieslaw.com.