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Barred Broker’s Probation Revoked After Unauthorized Caribbean Trip

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What You Need to Know

  • An ex-Raymond James and Alliance Global Partners broker is awaiting trial for allegedly defrauding clients.
  • His pretrial probation was revoked last week after he took a trip to St. Thomas without authorization.
  • The Justice Department charged him with nine counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud.

The pre-trial probation granted to a former Raymond James Financial Services and Alliance Global Partners broker who was charged by the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission with defrauding his clients has been revoked after he violated the terms of the probation by allegedly taking an unauthorized trip.

Arguments were heard on Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Wisconsin after the probation office petitioned for revocation of the pretrial release of Michael Francis Shillin after it was learned he traveled to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Shillin took the trip despite his request to travel there having been denied by the court and Justice Department before he went.

The probation office’s request for Shillin to be detained was granted by the court Thursday and Shillin was detained pending his trial and sentencing, according to court documents.

Raymond James, AGP and Kathleen Quinn, the attorney representing Shillin, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

9 Counts of Wire Fraud

A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin returned an indictment against Shillin in October. The Justice Department charged him with nine counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud.

The indictment alleged that Shillin, the owner of financial advisory firm Shillin Wealth Management, engaged in a scheme to defraud clients by making misrepresentations to them.

Shillin allegedly told his clients that he bought nonpublic stock of well-known companies on their behalf and that they made hundreds of thousands of dollars on those investments when Shillin had actually not purchased the stocks at all, according to the indictment.

The indictment further alleged that Shillin convinced several clients to buy insurance policies by misrepresenting the cost of the policies and the benefits, and that Shillin received commission payments on some of those policies. He also allegedly provided clients with fraudulent tax documents to make them appear eligible for tax breaks to which they weren’t entitled.

The indictment also charged Shillin with defrauding a bank by obtaining two loans totaling $462,000 on behalf of his company, SWM, by using fraudulent collateral. The indictment alleged that he provided an account statement showing that SWM owned an account with a balance of over $1.2 million, when actually it was a client who owned and controlled the account.

If convicted, Shillin faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each wire fraud charge and a maximum penalty of 30 years on the bank fraud charge, according to the Justice Department.

5 Days in the Caribbean

On Nov. 4, Shillin was released on conditions of pretrial supervision, according to court documents. On Jan. 18, a condition was added: that he shall not travel outside of the Western District of Wisconsin, except to take day trips to visit relatives and lawyers anywhere in the state, without seeking prior approval from pretrial services.

On March 29, Shillin informed pretrial services he was invited to a stay in Antigua as part of a conference hosted by his employer, Best Version Media. He explained he didn’t plan to go but was being pressured to by his employer because it wanted him to be a presenter at the conference.

On March 30, his attorney asked the officer of the court and assistant U.S. attorney assigned to the case if they would support his request to travel for his work conference. He was told that neither party would support his travel request, according to court documents.

On April 1, Shillin emailed the officer of the court and his defense counsel that his employer was fine with not pressuring him to travel anymore as long as his girlfriend, Ashley Romatoski, could attend events instead of him. Shillin notified them that Romatoski would be making the trip to Antigua and asked whether there would be an issue with her using their joint checking account while abroad.

On April 9, the officer of the court received notification that Shillin had been stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Cyril E. King International Airport in St. Thomas while he was attempting to travel home, according to court documents. He and his girlfriend allegedly traveled to St. Thomas on April 4 and stayed five nights at the Emerald Beach Resort.

Shillin had a ticket to board a Sun Country flight bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico, then Minneapolis. The officer of the court advised that Shillin should be allowed to continue his travel home and Shillin was directed to notify the officer upon his return home and report to the U.S. Pretrial Services Office on the morning of April 11, according to the court documents.

Barred From the Industry

Shillin was a registered representative and broker with Raymond James from 2014 to 2018 and served in the same roles at Alliance Global Partners from 2018 to 2020, according to his report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website.

On Nov. 18, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin entered a partial judgment against Shillin in a civil action that was filed by the SEC on Sept. 23, charging him with defrauding at least 100 clients.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Shillin, while acting as an advisor, fabricated documents and made misrepresentations to clients, many of whom were older adults.

Shillin was the subject of 37 client disputes, according to his BrokerCheck report. All were filed after he was terminated by Raymond James on May 21, 2018, and resigned from AGP on Oct. 2, 2020, while under investigation for alleged securities violations. In the disputes, many of which are still pending, Shillin was accused of making a diverse array of misrepresentations to clients.

In December, Shillin was barred from the industry by FINRA after he refused to produce information or documents or give on-the-record testimony as requested by FINRA staff.

The SEC issued an order in January permanently barring Shillin from the financial services industry.

(Image: Shutterstock)