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Press Release

CFP Board Imposes Public Discipline

September 17, 2020

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) announced today public disciplinary actions against the following individuals, effective immediately or on the date noted in each case. Public disciplinary actions taken by CFP Board, in order of increasing severity, include letters of admonition, suspensions and permanent revocations.

This release contains information about recent disciplinary actions relating to 22 current or former CFP® professionals. Of these actions, there are five letters of admonition (which will be referred to as public censures in actions brought after June 30, 2020), nine suspensions, one revocation and seven administrative revocations.

The basis for each decision can be found in the Disciplinary Action Report below and on CFP Board’s website. The public may check on an individual’s disciplinary history and certification status with CFP Board at www.CFP.net/verify.That website also provides links to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) BrokerCheck and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Investment Adviser Public Disclosure databases, which are free tools that may be used to conduct research on the background and experience of CFP® professionals who are subject to FINRA or SEC oversight, including with respect to employment history, regulatory actions, and investment-related licensing information, arbitrations, and complaints.

CFP Board’s enforcement process is a critical consumer protection. As part of their certification, a CFP® professional agrees to abide by CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (Code and Standards), or its predecessor, the Standards of Professional Conduct (Standards), which included the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards.

CFP Board enforces its ethical standards by investigating incidents of alleged violations and, where there is probable cause to believe there are grounds for sanction, presenting a Complaint containing the alleged violations to CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) pursuant to CFP Board’s Procedural Rules, which became effective on June 30, 2020, or its predecessor Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). If the Commission determines there are grounds for sanction (previously called grounds for discipline), then it may impose a sanction ranging from a private censure or public sanction (previously called a letter of admonition) to the suspension or revocation of the right to use the CFP® marks. CFP Board’s Procedural Rules set forth the process for investigating matters and imposing discipline where violations have been found.

The Commission meets at least six times a year to provide a fair, unbiased review of any matter in which CFP Board has alleged that a CFP® professional has violated the Code and Standards, or its predecessor Standards.

The Commission functions in accordance with the Procedural Rules and reviews all matters on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the details specific to an individual case. While CFP Board has attempted to capture the details relevant to each decision, the summary nature of these releases may omit certain details affecting the decision. Accordingly, the decisions and/or rationale described in the releases may not apply to other cases reviewed by the Commission or reflect the Commission’s future interpretation or application of the Code and Standards, or the predecessor Standards.

STATE

NAME

LOCATION

DISCIPLINE

California

Andrew Abas, CFP®

Irvine

Letter of Admonition

Texas

Harlan T. Cardwell, III

Vernon

Interim Suspension

New Jersey

Tai Yuan Chen

Warren

Suspension

Florida

Anthony Cottone

Del Ray Beach

Administrative Revocation

Indiana

David M. DeWitt

Indianapolis

Suspension

Ohio

Raymond Erker

Westlake

Administrative Revocation

Ohio

Konstantinos G. Georgostathis, CFP®

Columbus

Letter of Admonition

Puerto Rico

James Hal Heafner

Humacao

Administrative Revocation

California

Alin Hovhanessian

Sherman Oaks

Suspension

Florida

Nicholas P. Krsnich

West Palm Beach

Letter of Admonition

California

Tommy Sai Lau

Irvine

Suspension

Georgia

Christopher S. Laws

Alpharetta

Administrative Revocation

Washington

Brian J. Lockett

Seattle

Suspension

Virginia

Roshan A. Loungani

Vienna

Suspension

Colorado

Joe P. Medrano

Denver

Revocation

Florida

Jim Nguyen

St. Petersburg

Administrative Revocation

California

Jason Owyang, CFP®

Irvine

Letter of Admonition

Pennsylvania

Richard J. Pankowski

Gibsonia

Suspension

New York

Edward Papier

New York

Letter of Admonition

Florida

Edward Santos

Pembrooke Pines

Administrative Revocation

South Carolina

Robert Stewart

Okatie

Administrative Revocation

Oregon

Justin Williams

Portland

Suspension

 

PUBLIC LETTERS OF ADMONITION

CALIFORNIA

Andrew Abas, CFP® (Irvine): In June 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Abas received a Letter of Admonition. The Commission issued its order after determining that Mr. Abas obtained reimbursement for a 2014 computer purchase to which he was not entitled pursuant to his firm's Computer Equipment Purchase Assistance Program, and that he was permitted to resign from his firm in January 2018 for this conduct. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) found in a September 2019 Cautionary Action Letter that Mr. Abas’ conduct with respect to the computer reimbursement violated FINRA Rule 2010, which states that “every member…shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.” The Commission determined that Mr. Abas’ conduct violated Rules 4.3, 5.1, and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Abas a Letter of Admonition.

Jason Owyang, CFP® (Irvine): In June 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Owyang received a Letter of Admonition. The Commission issued its order after determining that Mr. Owyang obtained reimbursement for a 2016 computer purchase to which he was not entitled pursuant to his firm's Computer Equipment Purchase Assistance Program, and that he was permitted to resign from his firm in September 2017 for this conduct. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) found in an August 2019 Cautionary Action Letter that Mr. Owyang ’s conduct with respect to the computer reimbursement violated FINRA Rule 2010, which states that “every member…shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.” The Commission determined that Mr. Owyang’s conduct violated Rules 4.3, 5.1, and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Owyang a Letter of Admonition.

 

FLORIDA

Nicholas P. Krsnich (West Palm Beach): In September 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Krsnich entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Krsnich agreed that CFP Board would issue a Letter of Admonition. In the settlement agreement, Mr. Krsnich consented to findings that he failed to exercise reasonable and prudent judgment in providing professional services when he engaged in investment advisory business in the State of Florida without proper registration. Mr. Krsnich also consented to a finding that the Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFC) found in a 2013 Stipulation and Consent Agreement (SCA) that his conduct with respect to the transactions violated Section 517.12(4) of the Florida Statutes. In the SCA, Mr. Krsnich consented to a finding that his firm, of which he is an officer and a co-owner, failed to establish, maintain, and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance by the investment adviser with Chapter 517 of the Florida Statues and Division 69W of the Florida Administrative Code. As part of the SCA, Mr. Krsnich and his firm also consented to fines for $10,000 in 2013 and $6,000 in 2018. Pursuant to the CFP Board settlement agreement, Mr. Krsnich consented to findings that his conduct violated Rules 4.3 and 4.4 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a) and 3(g) the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Krsnich a Letter of Admonition.

 

NEW YORK

Edward Papier (New York): In May 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Papier received a Letter of Admonition. The Commission issued its order after determining that, during the period between July 28, 2015 and September 21, 2015, Mr. Papier’s firm voted on behalf of its clients on two proxy voting occasions while representing to the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) in the firm’s Form ADV that his firm does not solicit proxy from its clients. The Commission found that the firm was the subject of a 2019 SEC cease-and-desist order which stated that, as a result of this conduct, the firm violated Section 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Mr. Papier’s firm consented to: (a) a cease and desist from committing or causing any violations and any future violations of Section 206(2) of the Advisers Act; and (b) pay a civil monetary penalty in the amount of $40,000 to the SEC. The Commission determined that Mr. Papier’s conduct violated Rules 2.1 and 4.3 of the Rules of Conduct,providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued a Letter of Admonition to Mr. Papier.

 

OHIO

Konstantinos G. Georgostathis, CFP® (Columbus):In July 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Georgostathis entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Georgostathis agreed that CFP Board would issue a Letter of Admonition. In the settlement agreement, Mr. Georgostathis consented to findings that he obtained reimbursement for a 2014 computer purchase to which he was not entitled pursuant to his firm's Computer Equipment Purchase Assistance Program, and that he was permitted to resign from his firm in May 2018 for this conduct. Mr. Georgostathis also consented to a finding that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) found in a September 2019 Cautionary Action Letter that his conduct with respect to the computer reimbursement violated FINRA Rule 2010, which states that “every member…shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.” Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Mr. Georgostathis also consented to findings that his conduct violated Rules 4.3, 5.1, and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Georgostathis a Letter of Admonition.

AUTOMATIC INTERIM SUSPENSION

TEXAS

Harlan T. Cardwell, III (Vernon): On June 29, 2020, CFP Board imposed an automatic interim suspension temporarily suspending Harlan T. Cardwell, III’s right to use the CFP® certification marks. CFP Board imposed an automatic interim suspension after receiving evidence that Mr. Cardwell was automatically and permanently barred from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) in all capacities on May 3, 2019 after Mr. Cardwell: (1) failed to respond to FINRA’s December 14, 2018 request for information relating to Mr. Cardwell’s November 29, 2018 termination from his firm; and (2) failed to respond to FINRA’s January 30, 2019 Notice of Suspension letter and February 25, 2019 Suspension from Association letter. FINRA determined that Mr. Cardwell’s failure to respond to any of FINRA’s communications warranted an automatic and permanent bar under FINRA Rule 9552(h). Under the automatic interim suspension order, Mr. Cardwell’s right to use the CFP® certification marks is suspended pending CFP Board’s completed investigation and possible further disciplinary proceedings.

SUSPENSIONS

CALIFORNIA

Tommy Sai Lau (Irvine): In June 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Lau received a three-month suspension of his right to use the CFP® certification marks. The Commission issued its order after determining that Mr. Lau obtained reimbursement for a 2016 computer purchase to which he was not entitled pursuant to his firm's Computer Equipment Purchase Assistance Program, and that he voluntarily resigned from his firm in October 2017 for this conduct. Mr. Lau also consented to a finding that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) found in a September 2019 Cautionary Action Letter that his conduct with respect to the computer reimbursement violated FINRA Rule 2010, which states that "every member…shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade." Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Mr. Lau also consented to findings that his conduct violated Rules 4.3, 5.1, and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Lau a suspension for three months. Mr. Lau’s suspension is effective from August 28, 2020 to November 28, 2020.

Alin Hovhanessian (Sherman Oaks): In July 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Ms. Hovhanessian entered into a settlement agreement in which Ms. Hovhanessian agreed that CFP Board would issue a three-month suspension of her right to use the CFP® certification marks. In the settlement agreement, Ms. Hovhanessian consented to findings that she obtained reimbursement for a 2016 computer purchase to which she was not entitled pursuant to her firm's Computer Equipment Purchase Assistance Program, and that she was discharged from her employment in September 2017 for this conduct. Ms. Hovhanessian also consented to a finding that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) found in an August 2019 Cautionary Action Letter that her conduct with respect to the computer reimbursement violated FINRA Rule 2010, which states that “every member…shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.” Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Ms. Hovhanessian also consented to findings that her conduct violated Rules 4.3, 5.1, and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Ms. Hovhanessian a suspension for three months. Ms. Hovhanessian’s suspension is effective from July 31, 2020 to October 31, 2020.

INDIANA

David M. DeWitt (Indianapolis): In August 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. DeWitt entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. DeWitt agreed that CFP Board would issue a six-month suspension of his right to use the CFP® certification marks. In the settlement agreement, Mr. DeWitt consented to findings that he, as a principal of a certified public accounting firm and a registered associated person of a securities firm, entered into an accounting action settlement agreement (Accounting Settlement) with the Indiana Securities Commissioner in 2014 for committing various acts or misfeasance and malfeasance that caused and permitted a client’s Ponzi scheme to operate throughout his tenure as his accountants. Mr. DeWitt also consented to findings that he failed to disclose to CFP Board his 2014 Accounting Settlement on his January 6, 2016 and on his January 18, 2018 CFP Board Renewal Applications, and did not acknowledge his 2014 Accounting Settlement to CFP Board until November 19, 2019. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Mr. DeWitt also consented to findings that his conduct violated Rules 4.3 and 6.2 of the Rules of Conduct and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a), 3(d), 3(e), and 3(g) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. DeWitt a suspension for six months. Mr. DeWitt’s suspension is effective from August 24, 2020 to February 24, 2021.

NEW JERSEY

Tai Yuan Chen (Warren): In August 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Chen entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Chen agreed that CFP Board would issue a three-month suspension of his right to use the CFP® certification marks. In the settlement agreement, Mr. Chen consented to findings that he entered into a Consent Order with New Jersey in 2012 for delivering insurance policies in violation of New Jersey Statutes Annotated 17:22A-40a(2) and New Jersey Administrative Code 11:17A-4.6. In addition, Mr. Chen consented to a finding that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) found in a September 2012 Cautionary Action Letter that Mr. Chen violated FINRA Rule 2010 for his failure to report a customer complaint to his firm and for using unapproved personal email to respond to a complaining customer. Mr. Chen also consented to findings that he failed to disclose to CFP Board a 2012 FINRA Arbitration, a 2012 employment termination, and the 2012 FINRA matter. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Mr. Chen also consented to findings that his conduct violated Rules 4.3 and 5.1 of the Rules of Conduct and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a) and 3(g) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Chen a suspension for three months. Mr. Chen’s suspension is effective from August 24, 2020 to November 24, 2020.

OREGON

Justin Williams (Portland): In May 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Williams received a one-year and one-day suspension of his right to use the CFP® certification marks. The Commission issued its order after determining that Mr. Williams entered into a consent order in 2019 with the State of Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Division of Financial Regulation, in which he which he consented to findings that he had engaged in unfair business practices with regard to customer transactions involving leveraged, inverse, and leveraged inverse exchange traded funds from 2007 to 2014. In connection with the Oregon consent order, Mr. Williams agreed to not apply for any license under the Oregon Securities Law for a period of three years. In addition, the Commission determined that Mr. Williams failed to make and/or implement only recommendations that are suitable for the client. The Commission determined that Mr. Williams’ conduct violated Rules 4.3 and 4.5 of the Rules of Conduct and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a), 3(d), and 3(g) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. William a suspension for one year and one day. Mr. Williams’ suspension is effective from July 6, 2020 until July 7, 2021.

PENNSYLVANIA

Richard J. Pankowski (Gibsonia): In July 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Pankowski entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Pankowski agreed that CFP Board would issue a two-year and seventeen-day suspension of his right to use the CFP® certification marks. In the settlement agreement, Mr. Pankowski consented to findings that he sold several insurance policies in Montana before being properly licensed as an insurance consultant or insurance producer in Montana. Second, Mr. Pankowski consented to a finding that the Montana Insurance Department and the State of Ohio Department of Insurance revoked Mr. Pankowski’s licenses as an insurance agent. Finally, Mr. Pankowski consented to findings that he failed to disclose to CFP Board his Montana and Ohio orders on his May 29, 2008 and on his May 30, 2010 CFP Board Renewal Applications and never disclosed to CFP Board the revocations of his insurance licenses by Montana and Ohio. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Mr. Pankowski also consented to findings that his conduct violated Rule 4.3 of the Rules of Conduct and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a), 3(d), 3(e), and 3(g) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Pankowski a suspension for two years and seventeen days. The suspension is effective from July 31, 2020 until August 17, 2022.

VIRGINIA

 

Roshan A. Loungani (Vienna):In May 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Loungani received a six-month suspension of his right to use the CFP® certification marks. The Commission issued its order after determining that, Mr. Loungani failed to act in the utmost good faith when he (a) recommended and effected unsuitable investments for two customers totaling approximately $658,000 involving the purchase of the Loungani Funds between February 2008 and March 2012; and (b) failed to disclose in writing a general summary of the likely conflicts of interest between the clients and him or his firm when he failed to disclose the conflict of interest that existed between his duty to the clients as their investment adviser and financial planner and his duties to the Loungani Funds as the manager of the General Partner and investment adviser to the Loungani Funds. The Commission also found that one of the two customers filed a Statement of Claim in 2013 to initiate a FINRA arbitration against Mr. Loungani, which was settled by Mr. Loungani individually for $48,000. The Commission further determined that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) and Mr. Loungani entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC), which found that Mr. Loungani shared in customer losses as a result of his conduct and violated FINRA Rule 2010 and its predecessor NASD Rule 2310. As part of the AWC, Mr. Loungani consented to the imposition of a two-month suspension from association with any FINRA member-firm in any capacity and restitution to the customer in the amount of $69,901. The Commission determined that Mr. Loungani’s conduct violated Rules 1.4, 2.2, 4.3, and 4.5 of the Rules of Conduct and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a) and 3(d) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Loungani a suspension for six months. Mr. Loungani’s suspension was effective from July 6, 2020 until January 6, 2021.

WASHINGTON

Brian J. Lockett (Seattle): In July 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Lockett entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Lockett agreed that CFP Board would issue a 45-day suspension of his right to use the CFP® certification marks. In the settlement agreement, Mr. Lockett consented to findings that he recommended an unapproved private investment in 2012. Mr. Lockett also consented to a finding that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) found in a 2019 Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) that his conduct with respect to the private investment violated FINRA Rule 3280, and its predecessor NASD Rule 3040(b), which prohibit FINRA members from participating in a private securities transaction without first providing written notice to the member firm, and FINRA Rule 2010, which requires registered representatives to observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade. As part of the AWC, Mr. Lockett consented to a suspension for 45 days and a fine of $5,000. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Mr. Lockett also consented to findings that his conduct violated Rules 4.3 and 5.1 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a) the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Lockett a suspension for 45 days. The suspension was effective from July 31, 2020 until September 14, 2020.

REVOCATION

COLORADO

Joe P. Medrano (Denver): In May 2020, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Medrano received a revocation of his right to use the CFP® certification marks. The Commission issued its order after determining that Mr. Medrano (a) facilitated a wire transfer to an imposter based on an email request from a client’s email account and violated firm policies by failing to verbally confirm the transfer request; (b) received a Cautionary Action Letter from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) due to these activities; (c) consented to a Cease and Desist Order from the State of Colorado for continuing to act as an investment adviser representative while not licensed with the state; (d) failed to pay federal taxes each year for 12 years generating a history of federal tax liens amounting to $116,890.98; (e) failed to pay state taxes each year for four years generating a history of state tax liens amounting to $18,939.86; and (f) failed to timely disclose his 2014 bankruptcy filing and the 2017-2018 investigation by FINRA on applicable CFP Board Renewal Applications as required by the Disciplinary Rule and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). The Commission determined that Mr. Medrano’s conduct violated Rules 3.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a), 3(d), and 3(g) of the Disciplinary Rules. Accordingly, the Commission issued to Mr. Medrano a revocation, which was effective June 5, 2020.

ADMINISTRATIVE REVOCATIONS

FLORIDA

Anthony Cottone (Del Ray Beach): In March 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Cottone’s right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Cottone’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Cottone failed to respond to CFP Board’s requests for documents and information. In July 2019, CFP Board imposed an automatic interim suspension against Mr. Cottone after receiving evidence that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued an Order permanently barring Mr. Cottone from associating with any FINRA member in all capacities on December 10, 2018, based on its finding that Mr. Cottone “failed to respond to FINRA request[s] for information.” CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Cottone’s failure to respond to two separate Requests for Additional Information from the CFP Board provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(F) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Cottone declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Cottone’s revocation was effective as of April 1, 2020.

Jim Nguyen (St. Petersburg): In June 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Nguyen’s right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Nguyen’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Nguyen failed to respond to a Notice of Investigation (NOI) CFP Board mailed to him on November 15, 2019. CFP Board was investigating a tax lien reported by Mr. Nguyen. On December 20, 2019, CFP Board issued a second NOI via certified mail. CFP Board also emailed both NOIs to Mr. Nguyen as a courtesy on January 15, 2020. Mr. Nguyen failed to respond to each NOI. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Nguyen’s conduct violated Article 3(F) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules), providing grounds for discipline for failing to respond to a NOI issued by CFP Board. Mr. Nguyen failed to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Nguyen’s revocation was effective as of June 15, 2020.

Edward Santos (Pembrooke Pines): In March 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Santos’ right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Santos’ failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Santos falsely self-reported to CFP Board that he had completed 40 Continuing Education (CE) courses, totaling 92 CE credit hours during three reporting periods covering August 1, 2014 to July 2020. Respondent’s misconduct included communicating false information that misled CFP Board, clients, prospective clients, and the public into thinking that Respondent had satisfied the requirements for maintaining his CFP® certification when he had not. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Santos’ conduct violated 2.1, 6.2, and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(a) and 3(g) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Santos declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Santos’ revocation was effective as of April 1, 2020.

GEORGIA

Christopher S. Laws (Alpharetta): In June 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Laws’ right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Laws’ failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a Complaint against Mr. Laws, his firm, and three other Defendants, charging them with fraudulently inducing federal employees to roll over holdings from their federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) retirement accounts into high-fee, variable annuity products. The SEC’s Complaint charged that Mr. Laws’ firm targeted federal employees nearing retirement with sizable funds invested in the TSP. The Complaint alleged that Mr. Laws and the other Defendants misled investors concerning significant details about the recommended variable annuity investment, including the associated fees and guaranteed investment returns. Mr. Laws and the other Defendants allegedly fostered the misleading impression that they were in some way affiliated with or approved by the federal government. The SEC issued a Final Judgment against Mr. Laws, which found violations of the federal securities laws with respect to the described conduct and ordered Mr. Laws to pay disgorgement of $323,040.90. Mr. Laws also entered into a Consent Order with the SEC, consenting to be barred from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer, municipal advisor, transfer agent, or nationally recognized statistical rating organization. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Laws’ conduct violated Rules 2.1 and 4.3 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline under Article 3(a) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Laws declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Laws’ revocation was effective as of June 5, 2020.

OHIO

Raymond Erker (Westlake): In March 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Erker’s right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Erker’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that, in or about June 2016, the Respondent began to commit Menacing by Stalking by “engaging in a pattern of conduct” of menacing a victim and her family. The menacing peaked on March 16, 2018, when Respondent entered the victim’s dwelling and engaged in Menacing by Stalking therein. Subsequently, the State of Ohio charged Respondent with Burglary (Second Degree Felony), Menacing by Stalking (Fourth Degree Felony), and Telecommunications Harassment (First Degree Misdemeanor). In September 2018, Respondent was convicted by a jury of one count of Burglary, one count of Menacing by Stalking, and one count of Telecommunications Harassment. CFP Board received notice of the convictions in September 2018 and imposed an automatic interim suspension against Mr. Erker. The Complaint further alleged that Mr. Erker failed to notify CFP Board of certain judgments and liens that had been entered against him. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Erker’s conduct violated Rules 6.1 and 6.4 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) and 3(c) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Erker declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Erker’s revocation was effective as of April 2, 2020.

PUERTO RICO

James Hal Heafner (Humacao): In March 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Heafner’s right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Heafner’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Heafner entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) which barred Mr. Heafner from associating with any FINRA member firm in any capacity after he refused to produce information requested by FINRA pursuant to FINRA Rule 8210. FINRA had requested the information in connection with its investigation of Respondent’s possible involvement in an outside business activity that was not approved by his former firm. CFP Board imposed an automatic interim suspension against Mr. Heafner in September 2019. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Heafner’s conduct violated Rule 4.3 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) and 3(d) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Heafner declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Heafner’s revocation was effective as of April 1, 2020.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Robert Stewart (Okatie): In March 2020, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Stewart’s right to use the CFP® certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Stewart’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Stewart entered into a Consent Order with the Commissioner of Securities for the State of Georgia finding that Mr. Stewart and his Firm (a) engaged in investment advisory business in Georgia for four years without proper registration in violation of state statutes; (b) failed to provide clients with copies of the Firm’s Form ADV containing material changes; (c) failed to produce documentation granting the use of discretionary authority over client accounts despite the fact that Mr. Stewart and the Firm exercised discretion in all of its clients’ accounts; and (d) failed to maintain written information about each advisory client that became the basis for making investment recommendations or providing investment advice. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Stewart’s conduct violated 4.3 of Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(a) and 3(d) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Stewart declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Stewart’s revocation was effective as of April 1, 2020.

About CFP Board

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is the professional body for personal financial planners in the U.S. CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected certifications in financial services – so that the public has access to and benefits from competent and ethical financial planning. CFP Board, along with its Center for Financial Planning, is committed to increasing the public’s awareness of CFP® certification and access to a diverse, ethical and competent financial planning workforce. Widely recognized by firms and consumer groups as the standard for financial planning, CFP® certification is held by more than 87,000 people in the United States.

Contact

Jeanne Hamrick
Director, External Communications
202-379-2252
jhamrick@cfpboard.org