ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING BEFORE THE SECURITIES COMMISSIONER OF MARYLAND

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1 ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING BEFORE THE SECURITIES COMMISSIONER OF MARYLAND IN THE MATTER OF: * * Ralph Edward Thomas, Jr. * Securities Docket No * Respondent * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE WHEREAS, the Securities Division of the Office of the Maryland Attorney General (the Division ), pursuant to the authority granted in section of the Maryland Securities Act, Corporations and Associations Article, Title 11, Annotated Code of Maryland (2007 Repl. Vol. and 2011 Supp.) (the Act ), undertook an investigation into the securities activities of Ralph Edward Thomas, Jr. ( Thomas or Respondent ); and WHEREAS, on the basis of that investigation the Maryland Securities Commissioner (the Commissioner ) has found grounds to conclude that Respondent has engaged in acts or practices constituting violations of the securities and antifraud provisions of the Act; and WHEREAS, the Commissioner has determined that it is in the public interest to issue this Order to Show Cause; NOW THEREFORE, pursuant to sections , (a)(2), (c), and (a) of the Act, it is hereby: ORDERED, that Respondent show cause why his registrations as an investment adviser representative and as an agent should not be revoked; why Respondent should not be barred permanently from engaging in the securities and investment advisory business in Maryland; and why - 1 -

2 a statutory penalty of up to $5,000 per violation should not be entered against Respondent. I. JURISDICTION 1. The Commissioner has jurisdiction in this proceeding pursuant to section of the Act. II. RESPONDENT 2. At all times relevant to this matter, Ralph Thomas, Jr. has maintained a place of residence in Reisterstown, MD. Thomas was registered with the State of Maryland as an agent, and with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ( FINRA ) as a general securities agent, from February 2004 until August 18, 2010, and as an investment adviser representative with the Securities Division from January 2005 until August 18, 2010, while affiliated with Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. Thomas was terminated by Wells Fargo for admitting to unauthorized outside activities on behalf of client and commingling client funds in his bank account. From August 2000 to February 2004, Thomas was registered as an agent with the Division and with the FINRA as a general securities agent through an affiliation with Invest Financial Corporation. Prior to Invest Financial Corporation, Thomas was registered as an agent with the State of Maryland and as a general securities agent with the FINRA for various brokerage firms dating back to III. STATEMENT OF FACTS On information and belief, the Commissioner alleges the following as the basis for this Order. 3. In or about September 2011, Thomas entered into a plea agreement with the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland in connection with misappropriating more than $800,000 from his clients

3 4. According to the plea agreement, a trust agreement was established in 1994 for a child suffering from cerebral palsy. The trust was funded with the proceeds from a $3 million medical malpractice settlement, and the child s mother was appointed trustee of the trust. 5. The proceeds from the malpractice settlement were used to purchase an annuity which would provide the child with a monthly stipend. 6. In 2001, the child s mother visited Harbor Bank. At the time, Thomas was a vice president of Harbor Financial Services, a subsidiary of Harbor Bank. Thomas also was an agent for Invest Financial Corporation. 7. Thomas met the child s mother during her visit to Harbor Bank. Following their meeting, the child s mother decided to transfer the trust account to Harbor Bank. Once transferred to Harbor Bank, Thomas gained control over the trust account. 8. The monthly annuity payments deposited in the trust account averaged more than $6,000 per month. Thomas, however, distributed only $1,000 to $1,500 per month of the $6,000 to the mother for the child s care. The difference each month was withdrawn by Thomas, who had obtained the mother s signature on blank withdrawal slips, and deposited into his personal bank accounts. Between December 2001 to June 2010, Thomas withdrew and used approximately $756,000 for his personal benefit, including to purchase a house. 9. From 2006 to 2009, Thomas also obtained three mortgages totaling $205,000 on the mother s house in the mother s name, leaving the mother with losses and closing costs exceeding $26,000. Thomas also misappropriated approximately $12,500 from the mother s personal bank account at Harbor Bank. 10. From February 2004 to July 2010, while employed as a financial adviser with Wells - 3 -

4 Fargo, Thomas misappropriated approximately $75,000 from the account of an elderly client of Wells Fargo. 11. On February 3, 2012, Thomas was sentenced to four years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release for mail fraud in connection with defrauding his clients. Thomas also was ordered to pay $838, in restitution, and to forfeit certain properties including his home and automobiles. COUNT I (Fraud in Connection with the Purchase or Sale of Securities - section ) WHEREAS, section of the Securities Act prohibits any person, in connection with the offer, sale or purchase of any security, directly or indirectly to: (1) employ any device, scheme or artifice to defraud; (2) make any untrue statement of a material fact or omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in light of the circumstances under which they are made, not misleading; or (3) to engage in any act, practice, or course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit on any person; and WHEREAS, Respondent misappropriated more than $800,000 from two of his clients, including funds placed in trust for a child suffering from cerebral palsy; and WHEREAS, Respondent violated section of the Securities Act; NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that Respondent show cause why his investment adviser representative and agent registrations with the State of Maryland should not be revoked; that Respondent show cause why he should not be permanently barred from the investment advisory and securities business in Maryland, and that Respondent show cause why a statutory penalty of up to $5,000 per violation should not be entered against him

5 COUNT II (Revocation of Registration - Section (a)(2)) WHEREAS, section (c) of the Act provides that although withdrawal from registration as a broker-dealer, agent, investment adviser, or investment adviser representative becomes effective 90 days after receipt of an application to withdraw, the Commissioner may institute a proceeding to revoke or suspend under section (a)(2) within two years after withdrawal became effective and enter a revocation as of the last date on which the registration was effective; and WHEREAS, section (a)(2) of the Act provides that the Commissioner by order may deny, suspend, or revoke any registration if the Commissioner finds that the order is in the public interest and that the applicant or registrant has willfully violated or willfully failed to comply with any provisions of this title, a predecessor act, or any rule or order under this title or a predecessor act; and WHEREAS, Respondent was last registered with the Division as an agent and as an investment representative on August 18, 2010; and Act; and WHEREAS, Respondent willfully violated or failed to comply with section of the NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Respondent show cause why his registrations as an investment adviser representative and as an agent should not be revoked. REQUIREMENT OF ANSWER AND NOTICE OF OPPORTUNITY FOR HEARING IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to section of the Act and COMAR , that Respondent shall file with the Commissioner a written Answer to this Order within 15 days of service of the Order. The Answer shall admit or deny each factual allegation in the Order - 5 -

6 and shall set forth affirmative defenses, if any. A Respondent without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of an allegation shall so state. The Answer also shall indicate whether Respondent requests a hearing. A hearing will be scheduled in this matter if one is requested in writing. Failure by Respondent to file a written request for a hearing in this matter shall be deemed a waiver by Respondent of the right to such a hearing. Failure of Respondent to file an Answer, including a request for a hearing, shall result in entry of a final order: (a) (b) (c) revoking Respondent s registrations as an investment adviser representative and as an agent in Maryland; imposing on Respondent a monetary penalty of up to $5,000 per violation of the Act; and barring Respondent from engaging in the securities or investment advisory business in Maryland for or on behalf of any others, or from acting as principal or consultant in any entity so engaged. SO ORDERED: March 2, 2012 Commissioner s Signature is on File with Original Document Melanie Senter Lubin Maryland Securities Commissioner - 6 -

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