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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation > FINRA

FINRA: Broker Broke Into Former Firm’s Office for Files

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Department of Enforcement filed a complaint against an ex-Hornor, Townsend & Kent rep Monday, alleging that, hours after being fired by the firm, he broke into his locked office to steal client-related files and still hasn’t updated his Form U4 to include a criminal charge related to that 2018 incident.

Christopher Peter Tranchina started working for HTK, a subsidiary of Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co., in 2014, according to FINRA’s BrokerCheck website.

While registered through HTK, Tranchina worked in a branch office in Edison, New Jersey, but ended up in a feud with a team within the company he worked with, according to the complaint, which referred to that team as the “JG Team.”

In April 2018, Tranchina took steps to direct internet traffic from two websites he created while with the firm to a third website Tranchina created for a new advisory team he was planning to launch to compete with the JG Team, despite the fact that he was still affiliated with HTK, the complaint alleged. The branch manager of the HTK office where Tranchina worked suspended Tranchina, according to the complaint.

On April 27, 2018, the branch manager called Tranchina and fired him, instructing him not to return to the office and telling him that his personal belongings would be shipped to him at his home address, according to the complaint. During the call, the branch manager informed Tranchina that any client files he shared with JG would remain with JG, the complaint said.

However, around 8:30 p.m. on the same day, Tranchina returned and “forced his way into HTK’s office space … put a chair next to his office door, stood on the chair, and put a broom handle through the drop ceiling tile and over the threshold of the door to unlock his office door handle from the inside,” the complaint alleged.

Tranchina then entered his former office and took the client files, the complaint said, adding those files contained biographical information of customers and prospective customers of HTK, including their names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses.

According to the complaint, Tranchina was confronted by the building’s cleaning supervisor while vacuuming the floor of the office where the ceiling tile had fallen and broken.

The branch manager made a police report after he learned of Tranchina’s “breaking-and-entering into, and theft from,” the HTK branch office, and criminal charges were filed against him, according to the complaint.

In July or August 2018, Tranchina received a copy of the complaint-summons, which identified the criminal charges against him, including the charge of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, according to the complaint. At an October 2018 hearing, the court placed Tranchina on conditional dismissal for 12 months and the pending charges were dismissed Oct. 15, 2019, according to the complaint.

After he was charged with the crime, however, Tranchina did not amend his Form U4 within 30 days to disclose the criminal charge, according to FINRA.

His current firm — Chelsea Financial Services in Staten Island, New York, according to BrokerCheck — filed an amended Form U4 for Tranchina on Sept. 24, 2019, in which he answered falsely to questions related to criminal history, according to the complaint.

“As of the date of this Complaint, Tranchina has not amended his Form U4 to disclose that he has been criminally charged with theft by unlawful taking or disposition,” according to the complaint.

As a result of his conduct, Tranchina violated FINRA Rules 2010 and 1122, FINRA said.

Tranchina and HTK did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

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