April 4, 2001
Contact: Lucas Hamilton
State Auditor suspends Butte stockbroker O'Neill
Montana State Auditor John Morrison suspended the securities registration of Thomas J. O'Neill, a salesperson at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray in Butte.
Morrison, Montana's securities commissioner, issued an order Friday, March 23, 2001, preventing O'Neill from engaging in securities business pending the outcome of an ongoing examination by the Securities Department of the State Auditor's Office.
Piper Jaffray terminated O'Neill Monday, March 26, after more than 15 years with the company. O'Neill has the opportunity to request a hearing and provide a defense to the allegations in the petition. There has not been a final agency decision.
The State Auditor's Office began reviewing O'Neill's accounts at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray after receiving a complaint alleging he performed excessive and unauthorized stock trades and took unauthorized discretionary actions in the client's account.
The Securities Department examined nine additional client accounts and in its petition to suspend, alleged that O'Neill showed a pattern of liquidating his clients' mutual funds without proper approval. The petition also alleged that O'Neill executed an excessive number of unauthorized trades in the examined accounts.
In 1997, O'Neill and Piper Jaffray entered into a consent agreement with the Securities Department in which O'Neill and Piper agreed that O'Neill's registration would be suspended for two days and Piper would implement a plan of special supervision over O'Neill. This consent agreement followed an examination by the Department and alleged that O'Neill violated securities laws and that Piper had failed to properly supervise O'Neill. O'Neill and Piper Jaffray did not admit or deny any of the allegations in the 1997 consent agreement.
"We took this action to suspend immediately because of the continuing nature of Thomas O'Neill's actions and in order to ensure that Montana investors were protected," Morrison said.
Prior to his suspension, O'Neill had more than 500 clients in Montana. The alleged victims are at or near retirement age and may have difficulty recovering losses sustained.
Questions or information about this matter should be directed to Lynne Egan of the Securities Department at 444-2040 or 800-332-6148.
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