Wells Fargo Broker Loses Career for Parking His Car on Company’s Dime
It sounds almost like a high-school prank, but one broker’s attempt to save himself some parking fees has cost him his career.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority on Friday barred Thomas J. Stewart from the industry for using his Wells Fargo Advisor branch’s parking validation stamp for 50 days of free garage space in 2015 and forging his manager’s and other employees’ signatures to authorize payment.
Finra enforcement lawyers calculated that the Cincinnati-based broker’s scheme amounted to stealing, or converting, $731 from Wells Fargo, according to an acceptance, waiver and consent document that he signed.
Stewart, who agreed to the bar without admitting or denying the findings, apparently did not use an outside lawyer since only his name was on the document along with that of a Finra enforcement lawyer.
“A permanent bar is extremely severe,” said Dennis Concilla, a securities litigation lawyer at Carlile Patchen & Murphy, a plaintiffs’ law firm in Columbus, Ohio, who was not involved in the case. “But he did it 49 times too many,” he said of the repeated violations.
Any kind of stealing is attracting severe regulatory wrath, said Alan Wolper, a Chicago-based partner at the’ law firm Ulmer & Berne LLP. “Finra hates conversion,” he said, and believes “if you’re willing to steal this, you’re willing to steal anything.”
Stewart, who carried out his scheme from July 16 to November 25, 2015, could not be reached for comment. Wolper speculated that he agreed to the ban in a plea-like agreement in return for avoiding monetary sanctions from Finra.
Stewart “voluntarily resigned” from Wells in January 2016 over the parking allegations after working at the firm for almost two-and-a-half years, according to his BrokerCheck history. He first registered as a broker at the end of 2007 with Citigroup Global Markets in Florence, Kentucky, remaining with the firm until August 2013, when he joined Wells’ Cincinnati branch.
A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo declined to comment.