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Ex-Pruco Securities Rep Suspended by CFP Board Over Child Porn Charges

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What You Need to Know

  • Jason Cooke was arrested by Delaware State Police in May and charged with five counts of dealing in child pornography.
  • He was then terminated by Pruco Securities, the firm saying the allegations against him violated industry standards of conduct.
  • CFP Board also imposed an interim suspension on an ex-Ameriprise rep who allegedly struck and killed a construction worker with his vehicle while under the influence.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards imposed an interim suspension of the CFP certification on a former registered broker and advisor who was terminated by Pruco Securities in May after he was arrested by Delaware State Police and charged with five counts of dealing in child pornography.

The CFP Board announced the interim suspension on Friday. The group noted that the action went into effect on Aug. 5, and that it had filed a motion for the interim suspension order on July 11.

On April 28, at about 8:46 a.m., Delaware State Police troopers and Department of Justice investigators — assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force — arrested  Jason D. Cooke of Clayton, Delaware, the state police announced on April 29.

Cooke was “taken into custody without incident” and was charged with the five child porn counts in the Kent County (Delaware) Court of Common Pleas (Case No. 2204014557).

Next, he was arraigned in the Justice of the Peace Court No. 2 and committed to the Sussex Correctional Institution on a $250,000 cash bond. “Due to the sensitive nature of this case, additional information will not be released,” police said at the time.

Cooke’s status as an advisor was terminated by Pruco on May 3 because he was “unable to meet company requirements due to recent multiple felony charges involving allegations that are violative of industry standards of conduct,” the firm said, according to a disclosure on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website.

A hearing panel of the CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission, or DEC, reviewed the matter on Aug. 4 and then granted the motion and issued the interim suspension order one day later, “after determining that CFP Board Counsel demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Cooke’s conduct poses a significant threat to the public or significantly impinges upon the reputation of the profession or the CFP certification marks,” the group said.

Under the interim suspension order, Cooke cannot use the CFP designation pending the board’s completed investigation and possible further disciplinary proceedings, it added. The interim suspension order will remain in place until the disciplinary commission or, if an appeal is filed, the CFP Board’s Appeals Commission, issues a final order.

Cooke moved to Pruco in July 2021 from Citizens Securities, where he was a rep for three years. He entered the securities industry as a broker in 2007, when he joined Ameriprise Financial. Later, Cooke was affiliated with MetLife Securities (2009-2014) and Cetera Advisor Networks (2014-2017).

Pruco parent company Prudential did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday about the CFP Board’s suspension.

Recent Barring Over Manslaughter

Separately, the CFP Board said Friday it also imposed an interim suspension against Christopher J. Asher of Annapolis, Maryland, effective Aug. 5. On July 13, CFP Board filed a motion for an interim suspension order against him, it noted.

The moves are tied to Asher’s May 17 arrest, when he was charged in the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel, Maryland, with felony manslaughter by vehicle, felony homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, felony negligent homicide by motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and misdemeanor criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle, according to CFP Board.

Asher allegedly struck and killed a construction worker with his vehicle while under the influence (Case No. C-02-CR-22-000792).

He is no longer registered as a broker or advisor, according to his report on FINRA’s BrokerCheck website. The last FINRA-registered firm he was affiliated with was Ameriprise Financial. He was one of four advisors with team assets of a combined $675 million who left Merrill Lynch in 2019 to join Ameriprise.

Asher spent 10 years at Merrill. Earlier he was with Morgan Stanley (2009), Citigroup (2006-2009) and Legg Mason (1998-2006).

Ameriprise did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday about its ex-rep’s suspension.

(Pictured: Jason D. Cooke; image courtesy of the Delaware State Police)