A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel awarded an elderly couple from New York $3.2 million for being put into unsuitable variable annuity and life insurance policies by a former AXA advisor, Francesco Puccio, who was recently convicted of stealing from another elderly AXA client.
Jason Kane, a partner at the Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane law firm, who represented the two plaintiffs, James and Sandra Fitzpatrick, said on a Wednesday media call that the award “is believed to be the largest ever paid in upstate New York and also the largest imposed on AXA in arbitration.”
The Fitzpatricks ran the Fitzpatrick Poultry Farm in Whitesville, New York. Puccio, formerly of Webster, New York, was affiliated with the AXA office in Rochester.
Kane told ThinkAdvisor in a phone interview Wednesday that Puccio’s behavior “is commission grabbing, pure and simple. There were perfectly good mutual funds that Puccio switched into a variable annuity” charging high commissions. Also, the Fitzpatrick couple had “four life insurance policies that were switched to a variable annuity.”
AXA has to pay the $3.2 million award to the Fitzpatricks “in one lump sum by the end of May,” Kane said.
According to BrokerCheck, Puccio was barred from the industry in 2015 and has a total of 14 disclosure items, including tax liens and other financial disclosures.