Not one week into the new year and the SEC has shut down another fraud scheme, this one targeting the Sisters of Charity, a congregation of mostly elderly nuns in the Bronx section of New York City.
The SEC charged Paul Chironis with churning two accounts owned by the nuns. The accounts were to be used for care of the nuns in assisted living facilities and for charity. Instead, Chironis used the money for his own self-declared charity – himself.
According to the complaint filed by the SEC, Chironis “virtually guaranteed the convent’s accounts would lose money because of undisclosed and excessive” commissions. While admitting no wrongdoing, Paul Chironis agreed to pay restitution of $350,000. He has also been barred from the securities industry.
The fraud took place in 2007 and 2008 when Chironis was employed by Capital Growth Financial, a Boca Raton based broker dealer. According to the Vermont Securities Division, Chironis was already under a regulatory order requiring “heightened supervision” at the time of fraud against the nuns.
Just a few years before that, Chironis was forced to pay $175,000 after a customer accused him of making unsuitable investment recommendations and churning. And a year before that he settled another customer complaint of unsuitable trading for $130,000. In fact, over the last few years he had 8 complaints lodged against him.
Ultimately Paul Chironis wound up at Capital Growth, a less than stellar broker dealer that was expelled by the Financial Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for failure to pay fines and sanctions. Before being forced to close its own doors, Capital Growth was sanctioned for violating anti-money laundering rules and not reporting suspicious transactions.
Evidently Chironis and Capital Growth were a perfect match.
Is there a lesson in all this? Always check out the person and company you are giving your money too. The information used to write this post was easily accessible from the SEC’s and FINRA’s broker check websites.
FINRA is an independent regulator for securities firms doing business in the United States. Their mission is to maintain the integrity of the securities market and protect investors.
Anyone can check on the record of a broker or a brokerage firm by utilizing the free, online Broker Check system. The system can be accessed at brokercheck.finra.org
FINRA keeps track of individual state enforcement records as well making it an easy way to quickly check brokers doing business in multiple states.
If you are defrauded by a broker, charged excessive commissions or had unauthorized or unsuitable trades in your account, contact a competent securities fraud lawyer.
2019 Update: We often like to visit old posts and do our “Where Are They Now?” According to Paul Chironis’ LinkedIn page, he is retired. Ironically he lists the same brokerage firms where he had problems as past employers.
While we were not worried about him selling investments anymore – he was barred from the industry by the SEC. But a 2014 comment on his LinkedIn profile suggests he may be selling insurance.
A story in the New York Times, ironically titled Broken Trust in God’s Country, suggests a tie to a Ponzi scheme involving the Amish community.
We hope Mr. Chironis* truly is retired and enjoying his garden. If the SEC’s allegations are true, ripping off a convent of frail, elderly nuns gets you a place in the Fraudster’s Hall of Shame and probably a spot in a place a bit warmer.
Mahany Law is a full service fraud recovery . law firm. We represent individuals and businesses that are victims of fraud. Ponzi schemes, investment scams, bad brokers or other financial frauds, we are ready to help. Our securities fraud and asset recovery lawyers help people throughout the United States. [Our minimum loss is $1 million.]
For more information, visit our investment fraud recovery page. We also suggest you use the search feature on our blog and search for “Ponzi scheme” or the names of particular fraudsters. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact Brian Mahany by mail at .
*Although barred from the industry, Paul Chironis settled without any admission of guilt.