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FINRA disciplines investment broker, administrator

December 23, 2015

Financial industry regulators have sanctioned two former employees of Indianapolis-area brokerage firms, permanently disbarring one from the industry and suspending the other for 14 months.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority reported Dec. 15 that broker Barbara D. Fife had been barred for life for declining to provide documents it was seeking for an investigation. Fife was registered at a Fishers office of Boston-based LPL Financial from September 2007 until June 2014, the month the company terminated her.

In addition, regulators said John W. Ruggles can't re-enter the industry in any capacity until 2017, because he falsified emails and trade reports while employed as a compliance adviser at City Securities earlier this year. He also was fined $5,000.

FINRA said both Fife and Ruggles accepted their penalties without admitting to or denying the findings. Efforts to contact Fife for this story were not successful. Reached on his cell phone, Ruggles declined to comment.

According to FINRA, Fife entered the industry in 1993 and has worked for 11 institutions. She's had five customer complaints since 2000, four of them settled.

The largest settlement was for $257,000, pertaining to a customer who complained about writing checks to Fife that were never invested in his or her account. LPL Financial paid the settlement in October, FINRA records indicate.

FINRA said its officers in September requested information from Fife to investigate that complaint, and Fife responded with a letter saying she wouldn't provide the requested documents and information.

An LPL spokesman said, "LPL has and continues to cooperate with FINRA on this matter. We have no further comment at this point."

Ruggles had been employed at seven firms since 1993, including a roughly one-year stint at Indianapolis-based City Securities before he was fired in March.

Part of Ruggles' duties involved generating FINRA disclosure reports and extracting information for monthly emails sent to managers, FINRA said.

In March, one of his supervisors noticed he hadn't run the disclosure report for February and asked him for evidence that he completed tasks associated with the report as far back as June 2014. FINRA said Ruggles subsequently created the emails and "falsified the contents of both the e-mails and their supporting trade reports in order to give the appearance that he had completed his required compliance reviews."

In an email, a City Securities spokeswoman said the firm doesn't comment on the details surrounding employee departures. She also said, "FINRA’s allegations pertained only to non-client, non-regulatory-related internal reports," and that they've been updated accordingly.

Officials with MDwise Inc., who hired Ruggles in August as a claims dispute supervisor, also did not respond to a request for comment.

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