FINRA Files Complaint Charging John Thomas Financial, CEO Tommy Belesis With
Intimidation of Its Reps. and Multiple Market Violations Cited in Complaint
WASHINGTON -- April 15, 2013
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it
has filed a complaint against John Thomas Financial (JTF), of New York, NY,
and its Chief Executive Officer, Anastasios “Tommy” Belesis, charging fraud in
connection with the sale of America West Resources, Inc. (AWSR) common stock,
intimidation of registered representatives, trading ahead, failing to provide
best execution for customer orders and various other violations. The complaint
also names Michele Misiti, Branch Office Manager; John Ward, trader; Joseph
Castellano, Chief Compliance Officer; and Ronald Vincent Cantalupo, Regional
JTF and many of its customers owned AWSR stock as a result of participation in
the company’s private financings. According to the complaint, on Feb. 23,
2012, the price of AWSR common stock, which at the time was thinly traded on
the OTC Bulletin Board, spiked higher, by over approximately 600 percent,
opening at 28 cents per share, peaking at $1.80 per share and eventually
closing the day at $1.29 per share. On the same day, JTF sold 855,000 shares,
the majority of its proprietary position in AWSR, reaping proceeds of more
than $1 million.
The complaint alleges that while JTF sold its shares at the height of the
price spike, the firm received at least 15 customer orders to sell more than
one million shares, yet only entered one of these orders for execution on Feb.
23, 2012. Instead, JTF and Belesis prevented the orders from being executed on
the same day they were received and some customer orders were executed the
following day or days after at prices grossly inferior to those obtained by
the firm while other customer orders were not entered or executed at all. AWSR
is now in bankruptcy and the customers’ investments are virtually worthless.
In addition, the complaint alleges that JTF and Belesis, through Misiti and
Castellano, lied to the firm’s registered representatives and customers about
the reasons the customer shares could not be sold on Feb. 23, 2012, including
that there was a problem with the clearing firm’s trading systems, there was
insufficient volume on that day to fill the orders, and the shares could not
be sold because they were restricted under the Securities Act of 1933.
FINRA further alleges that to conceal that the firm received the orders during
the February 23 price spike but failed to execute them, JTF and Belesis,
through Misiti, “lost” order tickets for customer orders received on Feb. 23,
2012, and replaced six of those tickets with falsified tickets dated Feb. 24,
2012. Belesis and Misiti also made misrepresentations to FINRA concerning
Belesis’ role in the misconduct.
Also, the complaint charges JTF, Belesis, Castellano and Cantalupo with
violating FINRA’s anti-intimidation rule by physically threatening (including
threatening to have them “run over”), harassing and assaulting registered
representatives who have disagreed with Belesis’ business practices, and
threatening to ruin the registered representatives’ financial careers by
improperly marking their industry records.
Under FINRA rules, a firm or individual named in a complaint can file a
response and request a hearing before a FINRA disciplinary panel. Possible
sanctions include a fine, censure, suspension or bar from the securities
industry, disgorgement of gains associated with the violations and payment of
restitution. The issuance of a disciplinary complaint represents the
initiation of a formal proceeding by FINRA in which findings as to the
allegations in the complaint have not been made, and does not represent a
decision as to any of the allegations contained in the complaint.
Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of,
any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA’s BrokerCheck.
FINRA makes BrokerCheck available at no charge. In 2012, members of the public
used this service to conduct 14.6 million reviews of broker or firm records.
Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling
(800) 289-9999. Investors may find copies of this complaint, as well as other
disciplinary documents, in FINRA’s Disciplinary Actions Online Database.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest,
independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United
States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through
effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and
technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the
securities business – from registering and educating all industry participants
to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and
federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public,
providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the
largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more
information, please visit www.finra.org.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
Michelle Ong, 202-728-8464
Nancy Condon, 202-728-8379
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.