Finra panel awards $800,000 in case against Stifel


A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. arbitration panel has awarded $800,000 in compensatory damages in a case which charged a Stifel Nicolaus & Co. Inc. broker with fraud.

Merle L. Buzzotta claimed that her estranged, and now deceased, husband and a Stifel rep, John Hoff Russell, intentionally used subterfuge to obtain consent to transactions that removed assets from joint accounts to benefit a third party. Buzzotta also alleged that as a result of Russell not providing her with material information, she and her children were left substantially disinherited from the majority of the financial assets that had been provided for them under the couple’s estate plans.

Buzzotta, of St. Louis, had requested compensatory damages in excess of $3 million and punitive damages of more than $1 million.

Russell’s request for expungement of the matter from his Finra record was denied. 

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