Couple Accused of Stealing Investments from Philadelphia
Philanthropist Barred from the N.J. Securities Industry
NEWARK — The New Jersey Bureau of Securities today denied agent and investment adviser registration to two former employees of Morgan Stanley, effectively barring them from working in the state's securities industry, after they allegedly stole funds from an elderly client who was a well-known philanthropist in Philadelphia's arts community.
John Edward Mullins and Kathleen Maria Mullins, husband and wife, are subject to civil penalties from the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, in addition to having their agent and investment adviser applications denied. The Mullins reside in Margate, Atlantic County, and both worked at the Morgan Stanley office in Northfield from June, 2002 to August, 2006, when they were terminated.
The Mullins became trustees of a non-profit foundation created by Esther C. Weil, a supporter of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts of Philadelphia and the Choral Arts Society. This relationship violated Morgan Stanley's company policies and was not disclosed to the company.
In 2006, when the 95-year-old Weil became seriously ill, John Mullins allegedly:
Withdrew $14,000 from Weil's account with Morgan Stanley using her ATM card;
Converted $375,000 of Weil's assets for his personal use;
Purchased $5,500 in gift certificates at Boyds Department Store using the Foundation's debit card;
Purchased $11,000 of Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts gift certificates and used $4,000 of these on a personal vacation to London, England; and
Charged Weil's Foundation account $1,634 to purchase 23 bottles of Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet at Morton's Steakhouse in Atlantic City.
"The investigation by the New Jersey Bureau of Securities uncovered a clear pattern of deceit and subterfuge, all for the purpose of personal enrichment," Attorney General Anne Milgram said. "We've acted today to prevent the Mullins from harming other investors and we will hold them accountable for their actions in this matter."
Bureau of Securities Chief Vincent J. Oliva based his denial of agent and investment adviser registration on the Mullins' engagement in dishonest or unethical practices in the securities business and employing a scheme to defraud a client.
"The elderly are inviting targets for con artists because they may have substantial assets that they've built up through the years" Oliva said. "Guardians and family members must remain vigilant to ensure the elderly are not taken advantage of. Financial fraud against seniors is a growing concern of securities regulators."
The Bureau of Securities can be contacted toll-free within New Jersey at 1-877-I-INVEST (1-877-446-8378) or from outside New Jersey at 973-504-3600. The Bureau's web site is located at: www.njsecurities.gov.