FINRA Alleges Brokerage-Based Fla. Hedge Fund Fraud

Oct 18 2013 | 12:56pm ET

Two former Florida stock brokers are accused of running a hedge fund scam that cost investors more than $4 million.

John DuBrule and Kevin Tuttle recruited clients of Altamonte Springs-based Merrimac Corporate Securities and then lied to them about just-about everything, with falsified account statements, massively overvalued assets, mainly penny stocks, and inflated fees, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority alleges. According to the agency, the scam ran from 2007 through 2010; DuBrule and Tuttle allegedly misappropriated more than $141,000 in 2008 and 2009 alone, and left their victims with just a fraction of their investments.

DuBrule and Tuttle deny any wrongdoing.

"We will vigorously defend against the claims, and we expect to be vindicated," their lawyer, Russel Forkey, said. Citing the financial crisis, he added, "the documents my clients provided investors clearly spell out the hedge funds' investment strategy and its risk."

FINRA also alleges that Merrimac's leaders, Stephen Pizzuti and David Matthews, knew what their charges were up to and did nothing to stop them. The regulator also charged Pizzuti with a scam of his own, misleadingly promoting his financial-advisory firm to clients.

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