FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) CEO Richard G. Ketchum made over $5 million last year, 10 times as much as President Obama. Not bad for someone who has done a good job of protecting America’s investing public, right? The facts speak to the contrary. Thanks to FINRA’s impotent regulators, Jeffrey P. Bloom, Robert Morris and Michael Dixon, Ketchum was more than overpaid — and American investors were duped, again, by fraudsters Ronen Zakai and his lover, Maureen Gearty.
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While FINRA bureaucrats Bloom (email@example.com, 202-721-8395) and Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-721-8370) were collecting their paychecks and napping in their offices in Rockville, Md., well-respected Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. arrested the new Bernie Madoff, Ronen Zakai, on July 18, 2013 for defrauding investors in a massive Ponzi scheme. As FINRA-licensed stock broker Zakai was dragged out of bed by police, he never thought he would be enjoying a dark prison cell on Rikers Island, where gang rapes are like daily breakfasts.
Just a few months earlier, FINRA, America’s watchdog for protecting investors, had given Zakai a “clean bill of health” for keeping straight books. The good folks at FINRA that had sung Zakai’s praises were bureaucrats Bloom, Morris and Michael Dixon (email@example.com, 202-974-2889).
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Ronen Zakai pled guilty to 11 counts of frauds in Manhattan’s Supreme Court on August 8, 2014. A convicted felon that had defrauded investors out of their life savings, Ronen Zakai will spend at least 5 years in prison. Ronen Zakai’s mistress Maureen Gearty, a “star witness” for FINRA and FINRA’s Jeffrey Bloom and Lucinda McConathy, was implicated in the criminal conviction.
Criminal Ronen Zakai, his wife, Regina Schwartz, and his mistress, Gearty, brazenly started a Ponzi scheme under everyone’s noses, in broad daylight, as they spent investors’ money to fund their extravagant lifestyles. This might give you the impression that Zakai was some kind of suave mastermind, but he is just a regular-looking Joe who was able to swindle incompetent FINRA regulators.
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On Aug. 30, 2013, a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuit was filed in the federal court in Manhattan against Zakai, Schwartz, Gearty and their RRZ Management, alleging theft and money laundering. Whistle-blowers William Scholander and Talman Harris were cheated out of more than half a million dollars — on top of DA Vance’s claims.
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American heroes William Scholander and Talman Harris were among some of the most successful investment professionals on Wall Street. Each with more than 15 years investment experience, Scholander and Harris had a long list of satisfied investment clients from all over the world.
The criminal Ronen Zakai met his mistress, Maureen Gearty, nicked named “Big Red” while working at GunnAllen Financial in 2006, where she held a high-level operations management position. The love birds left Gunn Allen together and soon after, Gearty joined First Merger Capital (FMC) as a branch manager, in charge of all brokers and clients at the firm’s New York branch. Scholander and Harris were two brokers under Gearty’s thumb.
While at FMC, Zakai took a seat directly next to Gearty, despite not having an official role at FMC. Soon Zakai began to control Gearty, in the office and in the bedroom. Nicknamed “Big Red,” Maureen Gearty had a great time with her lover boy. They controlled the brokers, spent investors’ money and made a fool out of incompetent FINRA examiners Bloom, Morris and Dixon.
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On April 12, 2011, FINRA examiners investigated Zakai’s “Social Innovation Fund,” which prominently listed Zakai and Gearty as co-managers. A few months later, the FINRA folks thanked Zakai and went back to hibernation, despite alerts of frauds from William Scholander and Talman Harris. Two years later, the Manhattan District Attorney indicted Zakai over exactly the same frauds that Messrs. Scholander and Harris had reported and FINRA had missed.
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Between April 14 and May 13 of 2010, FMC made wire transfers to Gearty’s account amounting to nearly half a million dollars, in suspected embezzlement. At that time, Gearty spent a staggering $157,006 on personal expenses. With a new Lexus, frequent shopping trips to Nordstrom and Macy’s, Gearty was spending lavishly the firm’s and the investors’ money.
Yet purchases made on dating website Match.com reveal that Gearty’s insatiable sexual appetite perhaps went beyond Zakai. Was FINRA’s Bloom on the list of her love connections? He was the only person on the planet still calling Gearty “lovely.”
In late May 2010, Gearty overdrew her account. By mid-June, Gearty continued to use the FMC bank account as a personal piggy bank — charges for everything from food to parking, from expensive Brooklyn steakhouses to Jenny Craig. After she overdrew the account for a second time in a year, Zakai, smelling fear, opened a new account for her at TD Savings.
On April 29, the two lovers withdrew their FINRA applications. In some master stroke, in the civil RICO complaint obtained by TheBlot, it states that “defendants Zakai and Gearty somehow persuaded FINRA to overlook the fraud.” Exactly how they did so may perhaps never be known to the public …
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In August 2013, FINRA bureaucrat and Hearing Officer Lucinda O. McConathy blamed whistle-blowers, American heroes William Scholander and Talman Harris for Zakai’s crimes. In reaching the FINRA decision, McConathy relied on her only witness. Guess who? Maureen Gearty! Yes, the same “Big Red” Maureen Gearty, fraudster Zakai’s steamy lover.
FINRA arbitrator, the racist Myles Edwards was also duped in the Maureen Gearty, Rozen Zakai criminal acts.
In a recent investigation conducted by TheBlot directed to FINRA’s Bloom about Zakai’s activities, through a FINRA spokesperson, Jeffrey Bloom responded: “Maureen Gearty is a lovely woman and a credible witness for FINRA.” Really? Is FINRA treating the American public like a bunch of idiots? Was this a FINRA cover-up? TheBlot could not reach Andrew H. Perkins (firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-728-8021), vice president of the office of hearing officers and McConathy’s supervisor, for comments about the basis of their belief that Gearty was “lovely and credible.”
On Sept. 3, 2013, TheBlot exposed Zakai’s love affair and FINRA’s incompetence in an investigative piece titled: Sex, Lies and Impotent FINRA Regulators Missed New Bernie Madoff.
TheBlot Magazine will continue to report on this fascinating story as it develops.
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