The Securities and Exchange Commission has barred James T. Booth, 74, a former LPL Financial broker who operated a Ponzi scheme that defrauded roughly 40 retail investors, including senior citizens saving for retirement, out of $4.9 million in assets.
Booth pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud on October 22 and faces up to 20 years in prison.
From at least August 2014 to June 2019, while operating his investment advisory and brokerage business, Booth made false promises of safer investments and higher returns to convince his investment advisory clients and brokerage customers to move assets out of their ordinary accounts.
Booth spent less than one year at LPL before he was fired in May 2019 for misappropriating “multiple clients’ funds for his personal and business use.”
Prior to LPL, he spent 12 years with Invest Financial Corporation, and another 12 years at Cadaret, Grant & Co. before that. According to his BrokerCheck profile, Booth has 19 pending customer disputes since the end of June 2019.
The SEC claims that Booth deposited investors’ funds into a bank account of an entity he controlled, and then moved the funds into his personal accounts to pay for business and personal expenses, including meals, entertainment and numerous trips to casinos.
According to the complaint, Booth provided his clients with detailed false account statements showing securities that he purportedly purchased on their behalf, many of which showed gains over time.
Booth was barred by FINRA in July without admitting or denying the findings of its investigation.