The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) has barred John Thornes, a California broker, and suspended his broker-dealer, Thornes & Associates Inc. of Redlands, Calif., over allegations that Mr. Thornes stole $4.2 million from two clients. FINRA alleged that from December 2010 and January 2013, Mr. Thornes converted customer assets in two trust accounts, by making at least 50 transactions falsely characterized as loans, and transferring the money to two of his friends. In the settlement agreement, FINRA stated that Mr. Thornes diverted approximately $1.7 million from a $2 million trust account belonging to a 77-year-old retired homemaker with Alzheimer’s who lived in a nursing home. As if that was not enough, FINRA further claimed that Mr. Thornes depleted $2.5 million from a $3 million trust account created by a deceased friend of Mr. Thornes’ parents to fund educational scholarships using the same fictitious loan scheme. According to FINRA, none of the loans have been repaid. The case was settled last Thursday. It is not known whether Mr. Thornes will face any criminal charges in the matter.
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