Investment Adviser William J. Altman Ordered to Pay Full Losses to Investor for Ponzi Scheme
An American Arbitration Association (AAA) arbitrator based in Albuquerque, New Mexico ordered investment adviser representative William J. Altman to pay damages of more than $200,000 to the estate of a deceased client represented by the investment fraud law firm of Meyer Wilson.
Mr. LePlatt was 87 years old when he opened investment accounts with Mr. Altman. He passed away after initiating the arbitration at the age of 90. Mr. LePlatt worked as a plant operator in a natural gas processing plant for most of his career. He retired in 1993 and was a long-time resident of Farmington, New Mexico.
William J. Altman is the sole owner, founder, president, and chief compliance officer of Premier Advisory Group, LLC. He is an investment adviser representative and was Mr. LePlatt’s investment adviser from 2016 to 2018. At the recommendation of Mr. Altman’s agent, friend, and business associate, Bruce Moore, Richard LePlatt invested the majority of his retirement savings in Woodbridge Mortgage Investment Fund. Woodbridge was a highly risky private placement that ultimately ended up being nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. The entirety of Mr. LePlatt’s investment was lost.
At the evidentiary hearing, Mr. Altman argued that Bruce Moore was not his agent and that he did not authorize the sale of Woodbridge to Mr. LePlatt. Neither of those arguments persuaded the arbitrator, who decided that “Altman’s lack of knowledge of this transaction is not determinative,” and that Mr. Altman clothed Bruce Moore with sufficient apparent authority that a reasonably prudent person would believe that Bruce Moore was acting on behalf of, or in concert with, Mr. Altman. She decided that Mr. Altman’s “protest that he didn’t know what Moore was doing [did] not ring true.”
According to attorney Courtney Werning, who served as counsel for Mr. LePlatt’s Estate, “due to the actions of Mr. Altman, Mr. LePlatt had no reason to believe that the investment in Woodbridge was any different than the other investments he had purchased through his relationship with Mr. Altman. We presented an abundance of evidence during the hearing that Mr. Altman put Bruce Moore in a position that would lead his clients to believe Bruce Moore worked with, and for, him. This was an important win for Mr. LePlatt’s family who were very grateful that Mr. LePlatt got his posthumous ‘day in court.’”
Mr. Altman filed a Motion to Vacate the Arbitration Award in court in Albuquerque, which is currently pending. Courts will and can rarely disturb an award issued by an arbitrator.
For more information about this case or other investment loss-related issues please contact one of the attorneys at Meyer Wilson Co., LPA. The law firm is a nationally recognized securities firm representing individual and institutional investors who are victims of investment advisor negligence, fraud, Ponzi schemes, and other investment-related losses.