Payment for “at least two vehicles,” credit card balances, and his own and his in-laws’ home mortgages, are some of the unlawful uses to which 61-year-old Ronald Molo of Sherwood, Illinois, formerly a broker with Edward Jones, put the approx. $800K he is alleged to have defrauded several clients out of, as per the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division on the 15th of November.
John R. Lausch Jr., U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Emmerson Buie Jr., special agent-in-charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI, announced the unsealing of the indictment in a news release that charged him with 6 counts of wire fraud. As clarified by Lausch and Buie, “Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.”
According to the indictment, Molo has been misleading clients from 2018 onwards, falsely representing that they would earn tax-free income through their investments with him which they will receive at regular intervals.
What he did not tell them was that he was buying a Cadillac XT5 and a GMC Yukon sport-utility vehicle, remodeling his home and paying for its construction cost, purchasing lottery tickets, paying for shopping and travel of family members, and even giving cash handouts to them, out of their money. Why would he?
The total amount so used by Molo exceeds $778K belonging to three separate clients.
Action taken by Edward Jones
Molo’s career as a broker started when he registered with Edward Jones in May 2001. He was terminated on the 15th of June this year on the basis of allegations that “clients transferred funds to an external account believed to be related to the registered representative. The transfers were subsequent to the registered representative soliciting a purported investment.” This has been published on his BrokerCheck disclosures.
Focusing on the client impact and all impacted ones being made whole by the firm, an Edward Jones spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor, “Upon identifying Ron Molo’s misconduct, Edward Jones promptly terminated his employment and notified the proper authorities. We have fully supported and continue to cooperate with the law enforcement investigation that led to the indictment returned against Molo. The few Edward Jones clients impacted by Molo’s misconduct have all been made whole and remain clients of our firm.”
A separate complaint was filed by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) against Molo. This was on 23rd November. The charges were on the lines of the charges made out by the Justice Department.
The SEC has, additionally, pointed out that the victims are all seniors and that they were never told by Molo that the account into which he was asking them to transfer money was owned by him. He even made attempts at covering up his misdeeds by remitting about $22K to the victims, dressing up the payment as interest, in order to make it look like a genuine investment and perhaps delay suspicions. He even altered cashiers’ checks issued from funds in his accounts for the purpose.
In an apparent reference to Edward Jones, the SEC noted, “When the financial institution discovered Molo’s fraud, it fired him.”
Action by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)
Molo’s failure to respond to FINRA’s request for information led to him being suspended. This was on the 25th of October. His status will continue to remain as ‘suspended’ till he is able to provide the requested information. The suspension could also be converted to a barring.
According to court documents, on 16th November, a grand jury returned the indictment on Nov. 15 and the clerk of the court issued a bench warrant.
Molo surrendered voluntarily to the FBI on the 23rd of November, in Tampa, Florida. While he awaited his initial appearance in court, he was kept in the custody of US Marshals in the district.