Broker Turned Bank Robber Sanctioned by the SEC
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) regularly discipline errant brokers and financial advisers, but Leonard Eric Burd’s case is unusual by any standard. On March 31, the SEC announced that it had settled an administrative proceeding it had brought against Burd, a former stockbroker. Burd agreed to accept a permanent penny stock bar; he’d earlier been sanctioned by FINRA.
Problematic registered reps are usually disciplined for mismanaging clients’ accounts, or for stealing money from them. The 45 year old Burd was more adventurous. In 2013, he robbed two Boston area banks, and was convicted of Armed & Masked Robbery, Threats of an Explosive Device to Cause Serious Public Alarm, Intimidation of a Witness and more. He’s currently serving four years in the slammer for his exploits.
In an attempt at disguise, Burd wore a wig with a ponytail and a gauze bandage on his right hand to hide a tattoo. He entered the banks claiming to be a loss protection officer, and flashed a badge to gain entrance to areas not accessible to customers. In his first escapade, he spent 45 minutes in the building, eventually claiming he had a gun and explosives. He made off with about $6000 in foreign currency, escaping in a Jeep.
Burd began his career as a broker in 1997, when, according to FINRA’s Broker Check, he took his Series 7 exam and went to work for UBS in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He apparently kept his nose clean for ten years, but clients began to complain about him in 2007. He lost an arbitration in which he and UBS were required to pay settlements. UBS cannot have been happy with him, and he resolved to find new employment. Wishing to take his clients with him to the job he found with LPL Financial, he entered the UBS database and changed the phone numbers and email addresses of 51 of those clients so that UBS couldn’t contact them to persuade them to stay on.
UBS took the matter to FINRA, and Burd was fined $5,000 and suspended from working as a broker for 30 business days. He remained with LPL until February 2012, when he moved to Summit Brokerage Services. He was still working for Summit when he committed his bank robberies, but was fired shortly after his arrest.
While most brokers don’t rob banks, Burd’s earlier record suggests that someone should have kept a closer eye on him. FINRA did order that he be closely supervised by his employer, but evidently LPL and Summit saw no serious problems till it was too late.
The moral of the story is that investors should exercise caution when choosing a broker. FINRA’s Broker Check is a good place to start, but a wider online search is advisable as well. Anyone looking for Burd would have found stories about his alteration of UBS’s client data, which in itself is more than enough to suggest that he would not have been a suitable investment adviser.
For further information about this securities law blog post, please contact Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney at 101 Plaza Real S, Suite 202 N, Boca Raton, Florida, (561) 416-8956, by email at [email protected]. This securities law blog post is provided as a general informational service to clients and friends of Hamilton & Associates Law Group and should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal and compliance advice on any specific matter, nor does this message create an attorney-client relationship. Please note that the prior results discussed herein do not guarantee similar outcomes.
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