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17. Edward Jones Investment

Regulation and Compliance > Litigation

Ex-Edward Jones Rep Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for Scamming Clients  

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An ex-Edward Jones broker who was indicted in 2021 for allegedly defrauding clients out of about $800,000 has been sentenced to two years in prison, according to court documents.

On Sept. 27, a final judgment was entered against Ronald T. Molo in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He was also ordered to pay $815,104 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest.

Molo allegedly defrauded clients out of nearly $800,000 and used some of the money to pay for “at least two vehicles,” credit card balances, lottery tickets and home mortgages for himself and his in-laws, according to the Justice Department indictment filed Nov. 15, 2021.

Molo pleaded guilty in 2021 to one count of fraud as part of a plea deal and was permanently blocked from the securities business in 2022 by the Securities and Exchange Commission

He was initially charged with six counts of wire fraud, the indictment noted. “Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison,” the Justice Department said at the time.

Molo joined Edward Jones as a broker in May 2001, according to his report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website.

Edward Jones terminated Molo on June 15, 2021, after allegations that “clients transferred funds to an external account believed to be related to the registered representative,” a disclosure on his BrokerCheck report said. “The transfers were subsequent to the registered representative soliciting a purported investment.”

Edward Jones’ Take

“We have fully supported and cooperated with the law enforcement investigation that led to the indictment of Ron Molo and, ultimately, his sentencing this week,” a company spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor on Thursday.

“Upon identifying his misconduct, Edward Jones promptly terminated his employment and notified the proper authorities. The few Edward Jones clients impacted by Molo’s misconduct were made whole by our firm and remain clients today,” she said.

FINRA suspended Molo on Oct. 25, 2021, after he failed to respond to the regulator’s request for information, his BrokerCheck report showed.

Travel, Lottery Tickets

According to the indictment, from 2018 to early 2021, Molo falsely represented to clients that their investments with him would be income-producing and tax-free, and that they would receive regular, periodic interest payments.

But Molo did not intend to invest client funds and instead misappropriated their money to pay for personal expenses, including Cadillac XT5 and GMC Yukon sport-utility vehicles, home remodeling and construction costs, lottery tickets, travel and shopping expenses and cash payments to family members, the indictment alleges.

As a result of Molo’s scheme, he caused at least three clients to suffer losses totaling $778,000, according to the indictment.

SEC: Victims Were All Seniors

The SEC filed a separate complaint against Molo in the same court on Nov. 23, 2021, making the same allegations as the Justice Department and pointing out the defrauded clients were older clients.

The SEC’s complaint alleged that between January 2019 and November 2020, Molo stole a total of about $800,000 from two of his investment advisory clients and one of his brokerage customers.

According to the complaint, Molo persuaded the three investors to transfer money out of their advisory and brokerage accounts to another bank account, purportedly to invest in tax-free bonds. The complaint alleged that, in reality, the bonds did not exist, and instead of investing the money, Molo used it to pay personal expenses.

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