Stockbroker in Broadway scam stole from clients-regulator

Tue Nov 6, 2012 5:09pm EST

Nov 6 (Reuters) - Wall Street's self-regulator has accused the man involved in one of Broadway's biggest frauds with stealing or rerouting at least $8.5 million from his brokerage clients.

The charges, listed in a complaint filed Monday by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), are the latest missive against Mark Hotton, a businessman and stockbroker who was earlier alleged to have fabricated investors to dupe the producers of "Rebecca: The Musical". The production team later sued Hotton.

FINRA's department of enforcement alleged that Hotton, 46, had stolen at least $5.9 million from his clients since 2006. The charges, se parate from those connected with the musical, als o said Hotton caused at least $2.6 million to be wired from his clients' brokerage accounts at Oppenheimer Inc to his outside business activities and other entities and to individuals with whom Hotton was affiliated.

During that time, Hotton allegedly forged signatures on letters of authorization, lied on third-party wire request forms and created fictitious investments, the FINRA complaint said.

"Hotton went so far as to wire funds directly from customers' brokerage accounts to the accounts of other investors who were demanding to be repaid," the complaint alleged, noting that in some instances, he converted funds by persuading his customers to "invest" in securities that did not exist.

The next step is for the case to be heard by FINRA hearing officers, something that would typically happen within six to nine months of the end of an investigation.

A decision on the case would come one to two months after the hearing. Many enforcement cases, however, settle before the hearing stage. Discipline could include monetary sanctions and, potentially lead to Hotton being barred from the securities industry.

Hotton, who left Oppenheimer in 2009, was last registered with Obsidian Financial Group up until May 2012. He entered the securities industry in 1993.

Hotton was earlier charged by authorities with two counts of wire fraud for an alleged financing scheme for the $12 million "Rebecca" production, and faces up to 20 years in prison for each count if convicted.

Hotton allegedly had "faked lives, faked companies and even staged a fake death, pretending that one imaginary investor had suddenly died of malaria," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in an earlier statement.