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FINRA Suspends Ex-State Farm Rep for Forging His Parents’ Signatures

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority suspended an ex-State Farm representative for one year from association with any FINRA member in all capacities for allegedly forging the signatures of his parents, who were clients, falsifying power of attorney forms and impersonating his father on the phone, according to FINRA.

Without admitting or denying the findings, Steven Todd Gary signed a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent April 21 in which he agreed to FINRA’s suspension and a $12,500 fine. FINRA accepted the letter Friday.

State Farm and Gary did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

In March 1998, Gary became registered as a Series 6 investment company and variable contracts products limited representative with FINRA-regulated broker-dealer State Farm VP Management Corp., according to the regulator. Gary was registered with the firm until October 2018. While associated with State Farm, Gary was employed by its affiliated insurance company, FINRA said in the AWC letter.

On Oct. 19, 2018, State Farm filed a Form U5 reporting that Gary’s association with it was terminated Oct. 12, 2018 after an internal review concluded that Gary “was not following internal processes” related to life insurance policy loans, FINRA said, quoting the firm.

From April 2010 through January 2018, Gary violated FINRA Rule 2010 (governing standards of commercial honor and principles of trade) by forging the signature endorsements of his parents on about 60 checks totaling $332,650, which represented loans on their life insurance policies, according to FINRA. Gary’s parents, who held a securities account with the firm, also owned life insurance policies issued by its affiliated insurance company and Gary was the insurance agent responsible for the policies, the FINRA AWC letter noted. After Gary endorsed the checks by signing his parents’ names on the back, he then deposited the checks into his personal bank account, according to FINRA.

In April 2018, Gary violated Rule 2010 by providing three falsified and backdated power of attorney forms for his parents and wife to his insurance company employer during an investigation into Gary’s forgery, the FINRA AWC letter claimed. Gary also arranged for two employees in his office to sign witness certifications that falsely attested that the power of attorney forms had been executed in 2013 and 2015, according to FINRA.

In April and May 2018, Gary also violated Rule 2010 by impersonating his father during at least three calls with the bank affiliated with his insurance company employer, FINRA said. During those calls, “Gary misrepresented that he was his father in order to request monetary transfers from his father’s bank account to Gary’s bank account,” according to FINRA, which noted Gary engaged in that conduct with his father’s knowledge and consent.

Gary has not been affiliated with any FINRA member firm since he departed State Farm in 2018, according to his profile on FINRA’s BrokerCheck website, which also says he is not currently registered as a broker or RIA. There were no disclosures cited on his profile for the entire course of his 20 years at State Farm.

However, as of Monday afternoon, Gary’s LinkedIn profile indicated that he was still affiliated with State Farm.

— Check out FINRA Wants IAR Info to Be Available on BrokerCheck on ThinkAdvisor.