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FINRA Suspends Another Ex-First Standard Rep

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority sanctioned yet another ex-broker who had been associated with First Standard Financial — a Red Bank, New Jersey-based broker-dealer whose license was canceled by FINRA — over excessive trading in customers’ accounts.

Without admitting or denying the findings, Leonard J. Marzocco signed a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent on May 27 in which he agreed to be suspended from associating with any FINRA member firm, in all capacities, for 11 months. FINRA accepted the letter on Wednesday. Marzocco, who is no longer registered as a broker, according to FINRA’s BrokerCheck website, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Marzocco was registered with FINRA as a general securities representative through his association with First Standard from October 2015 through March 2017, and joined First Standard again in June 2017, where he remained until his registration was terminated in July 2019, according to the regulator.

Between November 2015 and December 2017, Marzocco “excessively traded three customers’ accounts in violation of FINRA Rules 2111 and 2010,” according to FINRA. One of the customers incurred losses of $135,800 and paid $53,232 in commissions and fees; the second lost $24,452 and paid $9,647 in commissions and fees; and the third lost $35,989 and paid $18,644 in commissions and fees, the regulator said.

“Marzocco also recommended a significant number of trades using margin in the three customers’ accounts,” the regulator said, noting he recommended using margin to that first customer even though he was aware that client’s “financial circumstances made it unsuitable for him.”

Marzocco was aware that customer “funded his investments through, among other things, a home equity line of credit, and that the risk of using margin with those funds exceeded” the client’s risk tolerance, according to FINRA.

Former First Standard rep Frank Venturelli was also recently suspended 11 months by FINRA. Before that, ex-First Standard reps Andre Pierre DavisMichael LeahyPhilip Joseph Sparacino and Gabriel Block were also sanctioned by the regulator.

First Standard “served as a haven for greedy, dishonest agents who traded clients’ accounts like sharks in a feeding frenzy,” Christopher W. Gerold, chief of the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, said in a statement Nov. 4, around the time the firm withdrew its registration.