A former broker, who recently pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of defrauding individuals with phony investment opportunities, has been permanently barred from the securities industry by FINRA.
Michael J. DiMare, a former Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., broker most recently with ING Financial Partners, has been in legal hot water for several offenses including misappropriating approximately $2 million client funds, FINRA stated. DiMare pleaded guilty in federal court in the Middle District of Florida last February to criminal charges. DiMare’s misdeeds came to light when federal authorities began receiving complaints from investors.
“FINRA will continue to bar individuals who engage in deceit and theft with no regard for the high standards of ethical conduct that govern the industry,” James Shorris, FINRA Executive Vice President and Executive Director of Enforcement, said in a statement.
While DiMare does not admit or deny the charges brought against him, he has accepted and consented to the findings of the FINRA investigation. His sentencing in the criminal case is still pending. Calls to DiMare’s lawyer Thomas Bell; Steve Cole, spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office in the Middle District of Florida, and FINRA spokesman Brendan Intindola were not immediately returned.
According to the FINRA letter of acceptance with DiMare, his malfeasance spans back to his days as a broker at the Jacksonville, Fla. Branch of John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. During his employment at the firm—from 1992 to 2006—DiMare converted and misappropriated client funds intended for investment purposes.
DiMare offered certain John Hancock clients the opportunity to invest in imaginary tax-free corporate bonds or certificates of deposit that paid high rates of interest—between 6% and 14% annually, the FINRA document stated.
DiMare voluntarily resigned from John Hancock in June 2006 and was subsequently hired by ING in October of the same year. However, between the time of his departure and May 2008, DiMare continued to represent himself as a John Hancock employee to at least 14 clients, the FINRA document stated. During this time he collected checks for investments and deposited into his own personal account and created and mailed false account statements using unauthorized John Hancock letterhead and insignia.
Although DiMare has settled the FINRA and criminal charges for the most part, one legal expert said that his employers, John Hancock and ING, could see some repercussions.
Jason Doss, an attorney and owner of The Doss Firm in Atlanta, Ga., said that while both John Hancock and ING have reimbursed funds that were misappropriated, how they monitored their employee, DiMare, may be called into question.
"These firms could be held liable because this guy was not properly supervised," said Doss. "The question is if everyone will come forward.
Dana Ripley, a spokesman for ING, declined to comment and calls to John Hancock were not immediately returned.