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Ex-Northwestern Mutual Rep Suspended for Not Disclosing Child Sex Abuse Charges

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FINRA sign in New York. (Photo: Ronald Pechtimaldjian/ALM)

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority sanctioned a former Northwestern Mutual Investment Services representative after it was discovered he did not in a timely way disclose he had been charged with child sexual abuse activity and two other felonies last year in Flint, Michigan, according to FINRA.

Without admitting or denying the findings, John Robert Barrows on Jan. 23 signed a FINRA letter of acceptance, waiver and consent in which he agreed to an 8-month suspension with any FINRA member firm in any capacity and to pay a $5,000 fine. FINRA accepted the letter Jan. 31.

According to The Detroit Free Press, Barrows was caught in a sting operation, along with 21 others, in which police officers posed as 14-year-olds and “had digital conversations with the suspects, agreeing to meet at hotels and motel rooms where the suspects were arrested.”

Northwestern Mutual did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. The firm terminated him Jun 24, 2019, and he has not been associated with any FINRA member firms since then, according to the regulator.

He is not currently registered as a broker, according to his profile on FINRA’s BrokerCheck website.

The news comes shortly after a former advisor affiliated with Commonwealth Financial was arrested for online sexual corruption of a child in Eugene, Oregon.

Barrows “willfully failed to timely amend” his Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer (Form U4) to disclose he had been charged with a felony, violating Article V, Section 2(c) of FINRA’s bylaws and FINRA Rules 1122 (regarding the filing of misleading information) and 2010 (governing standards of commercial honor and principles of trade), the regulator said.

Barrows was arrested on April 11, 2019, in Flint, Michigan, according to the FINRA letter. In a complaint dated April 13, 2019, he was charged in a State of Michigan District Court with three felony counts: child sexual abusive activity; children accosting for immoral purposes; and computers-internet communicating with another to commit a crime, the FINRA letter said. The charges are still pending, according to FINRA.

By no later than April 14, 2019, the court informed Barrows of the felony charges against him, and he was “required to update his response to question” 14A(1)(b) of his Form U4 within 30 days of the filing of the felony charges against him, FINRA noted.

However, Barrows “willfully failed to timely disclose” the felony charges on his Form U4, according to FINRA.

Northwestern Mutual learned that Barrows had been arrested when it obtained a news media report about the arrest, the FINRA letter said. Barrows did not inform the firm of the charges until June 10, 2019, about one month after he was required to disclose the charges on his Form U4, when the firm inquired about the contents of the report, according to the FINRA letter. Northwestern Mutual discharged Barrows and disclosed the felony charges on a June 24, 2019 Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration (Form U5) filing, according to the FINRA letter.

Barrows’ FINRA AWC letter did not list any attorney for him.


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