FINRA Suspends Formerly Registered Broker and Investment Advisor Austin Dutton, Who Targeted Police, Firefighters

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BrokerCheck reports that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has indefinitely suspended previously registered broker and investment advisor Austin Richard Dutton Jr. (CRD# 2739167) “for failure to comply with an arbitration award or settlement agreement or to satisfactorily respond to a FINRA request to provide information concerning the status of compliance.”

As reported in a 2017 article, Dutton specialized in marketing to Philadelphia city employees, including firefighters and police officers. The advisor conducted promotional events for the police union, Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP 5); and for firefighter members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF – Local 22). He also regularly ran ads in the Philadelphia police union magazine.

According to BrokerCheck, Dutton is currently employed by American Trust Investment Services, Inc., in Doylesville, PA.

This is the third time Dutton has faced regulatory action throughout his registration and employment history. Dutton is also the subject of two pending customer disputes, two pending formal investigations, and BrokerCheck reports. The broker has been the subject of dozens of customer disputes dating from 2017 to the present.

Regulatory Actions Against Austin Dutton

Dutton first faced regulatory action as a broker in 2017. Stefanie Hamilton, Deputy Chief Counsel, Department of Banking and Services for the State of Pennsylvania, initiated regulatory action against Dutton in 2017. She alleged that Dutton had recommended the purchase of a security to at least one customer without reasonable grounds to believe the investment’s suitability for the customer based on their investment objectives, financial situation and needs, or other information.

For such unethical practices, Hamilton sought civil and administrative penalties/fines. By a Consent Agreement & Order, Dutton was ordered to pay the Department an administrative assessment of $200,000. His employer, Newbridge Securities, was fined $499,000 for its failure to reasonably supervise the broker/advisor.

In June 2022, FINRA initiated regulatory action against Dutton for failing to respond to the agency’s request for information. His suspension was ordered in July 2022.

Most recently, in July 2023, FINRA again sought Dutton’s suspension—this time, for his alleged failure to comply with an arbitration award or settlement agreement or to satisfactorily respond to a FINRA request for information about the broker’s status of compliance.

The Subject of Two Pending Investigations

In March 2021, FINRA initiated a formal investigation of Dutton with its recommendation that disciplinary action be brought against the broker. The agency alleged Dutton had violated FINRA Rules 2111 (requiring that brokers make suitable recommendations to customers based on reasonable diligence); 2010 (“Standards of Commercial Honor and Principles of Trade” rule broadly designed to punish unethical behavior); and 4511 (requiring the making and preserving of books and records for a minimum of six years).

With the 2021 investigation still pending, FINRA initiated another formal investigation of Dutton in October 2023. This investigation was triggered by the authority’s allegations that the broker had violated FINRA Rules 8210 and 2010 after failing to timely respond to requests for information and documents. This investigation is also pending.

Dozens of Customer Disputes – Two Pending

BrokerCheck reports a history of 27 customer disputes filed against Dutton. An additional two customer disputes involving the broker are pending.

In July 2022, Dutton was named in a customer complaint, resulting in an award for damages totaling $43,644.69. The customer alleged the broker had violated federal securities laws, Pennsylvania securities laws, Pennsylvania unfair trade practices and consumer protection law, breach of contract, common law fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence and gross negligence.

Currently, the broker is named in two pending customer disputes. In November 2022, a customer filed a complaint against Dutton related to alternative investment recommendations and transactions while under the employment of Newbridge Securities Corporation. The customer alleged breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, violation of common law fraud, and failure to supervise, resulting in damages between $100,000.00 and $150,000.

In February 2023, another of Dutton’s customers filed a complaint against the broker, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, breach of contract, failure to supervise, violation of Pennsylvania Securities Act of 1972, and fraudulent inducement to hold investment. The customer has alleged damages of $130,000 related to alternative investments and real estate investment trust (REIT).

Previously, 24 customer disputes resulted in settlements ranging from $2,500 to $95,000.

If Austin R. Dutton, Jr. Was Your Broker and Caused You to Sustain Financial Loss Our Lawyers Can Help

The Securities and Business Litigation team at Levin, Papantonio, Rafferty, Proctor, Buchanan, O’Brien, Barr & Mougey, P.A. is investigating claims from investors who were former customers of Austin Dutton and sustained financial loss as a result of his trading practices.

Our firm will investigate your case and fight to recover your financial losses. We charge you attorney’s fees only if we recover for you.

To contact us for a free confidential consult, you can call us at (800) 277-1193. You also can request a free private and confidential evaluation by clicking Free & Confidential Consult. Your inquiry will be immediately reviewed by one of our attorneys who handles securities litigation.