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News Release

CFP Board Imposes Public Sanctions on 13 Individuals

September 15, 2023

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) announced today public sanctions against 13 current or former CFP® professionals, effective immediately or on the date noted in each case. Public sanctions taken by CFP Board, in order of increasing severity, include Public Censures, Suspensions, Temporary Bars, Permanent Bars and Revocations of the right to use the CFP Board certification marks.

CFP Board’s Enforcement Process

As part of their certification, CFP® professionals make a commitment to CFP Board to abide by CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (Code and Standards) or its predecessor, the Standards of Professional Conduct (Standards), which included the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards. Individuals on the pathway to CFP® certification make a commitment to abide by CFP Board’s Pathway to CFP® Certification Agreement (Pathway Agreement).

CFP Board’s Procedural Rules set forth the process for investigating matters and imposing sanctions where violations have been found.

CFP Board enforces its ethical standards by investigating alleged violations and, where there is probable cause to believe there are grounds for sanction, presents a Complaint containing the alleged violations to CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission). The Commission meets at least six times a year to review any matter in which CFP Board has alleged that a CFP® professional has violated CFP Board’s Code and Standards or its predecessor Standards, or an individual pursuing initial CFP® certification has violated the Pathway Agreement. The Commission functions in accordance with the Procedural Rules and reviews all matters on a case-by-case basis, considering the details specific to an individual case. If the Commission determines there are grounds for sanction, then it may impose a sanction. Commission orders may be appealed by a Respondent or CFP Board pursuant to the Procedural Rules.

In certain circumstances, such as when a CFP® professional is in default due to failure to acknowledge receipt of a Notice of Investigation or file an Answer, a CFP® professional may receive an Administrative Order of Suspension, Temporary Bar, Revocation or Permanent Bar. Administrative Orders are subject to appeal.

More information on CFP Board’s enforcement process can be found at CFP.net/enforcement. In addition, at CFP.net/verify, CFP Board provides the public with:

  • An individual’s CFP Board disciplinary history and CFP® certification status.
  • Links to other sources of information about CFP® professionals that may be more recent or that may contain information that has not led to CFP Board discipline and does not appear on CFP Board’s website. This information may include customer disputes, disciplinary actions taken by a regulator or employer, certain criminal matters and certain financial matters (such as bankruptcy proceedings and unpaid judgments or liens).
  • Links to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) BrokerCheck and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) Investment Adviser Public Disclosure databases for individuals who are subject to FINRA or SEC oversight.

The Public Sanctions on 13 Individuals

A short summary of each sanction can be found below.

STATE

NAME

LOCATION

SANCTION

Florida

Gustavo Carlo Sanchez, CFP®

Lake Mary

Public Censure

Indiana

Thomas M. Calkusic

Chesterton

Suspension

Indiana

Daniel P. Wachs

Valparaiso

Suspension

Oregon

Mateusz W. Sudol

Beaverton

Suspension

California

Joseph A. Occhipinti

Orange

Temporary Bar

California

Michael Sztrom

Del Mar

Temporary Bar

Florida

Jeffrey Freiser

Land O’ Lakes

Temporary Bar

California

Lawrence A. Krause

Mill Valley

Revocation

Delaware

Jason Cooke

Clayton

Revocation

Florida

Randall B. Kiefner

Orlando

Revocation

Texas

Stephen Y. Kwan

Spicewood

Revocation

Texas

John Poulos

Colleyville

Revocation

Kentucky

Douglas Hawkins

Lexington

Permanent Bar


PUBLIC CENSURE

FLORIDA

Gustavo Carlo Sanchez, CFP® (Lake Mary, Florida): In July 2023, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Sanchez received a Public Censure with Remedial Work in the form of continuing education. The Commission imposed this sanction after determining that Mr. Sanchez violated Standard A.8.b. of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (Code and Standards) when, in March 2022, Mr. Sanchez entered into an Order with the State of Florida (Florida Order). The Florida Order contained findings that Mr. Sanchez held himself out on a LinkedIn page for more than a year as a Florida-based financial planner for a firm that was not registered with the State of Florida to conduct advisory business in or from Florida. As part of the Florida Order, Mr. Sanchez agreed to the imposition of an administrative fine in the amount of $10,000. The Commission also found that Mr. Sanchez violated Standard E.3. of the Code and Standards when he failed to report to CFP Board that he was the subject of a Regulatory Investigation and failed to notify CFP Board that he had entered into the Florida Order. The Commission issued Mr. Sanchez an Order of Public Censure plus Remedial Work in the form of continuing education.

SUSPENSION

INDIANA

Thomas M. Calkusic (Chesterton, Indiana): In July 2023, CFP Board issued an administrative order suspending Mr. Calkusic’s right to use the CFP Board certification marks for one year and one day. This sanction followed Mr. Calkusic’s failure to acknowledge receipt of CFP Board’s Notice of Investigation, as required by Article 1.1 of the Procedural Rules. CFP Board sought to investigate information from a third party indicating that Mr. Calkusic had been terminated from his firm. Mr. Calkusic’s conduct may have violated Standard D.2 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, which requires a CFP® professional to comply with the lawful objectives of his or her firm. Under Article 4.1.a. of the Procedural Rules, Mr. Calkusic has been deemed in default, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Suspension. Mr. Calkusic’s administrative suspension was effective as of August 28, 2023.

Daniel P. Wachs (Valparaiso, Indiana): In April 2023, CFP Board issued an order in which Mr. Wachs received a suspension for one year and one day of his certification and right to use the CFP Board certification marks. This sanction followed an appeal of an August 2022 order issued by the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission). The Appeals Commission of CFP Board affirmed the Commission’s finding that Mr. Wachs violated Rule 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, which provides that a certificant shall not engage in conduct that reflects adversely on his integrity or fitness as a certificant, upon the CFP® marks or upon the profession, when he failed to timely file tax returns and pay the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax years 2014 through 2019. Mr. Wachs’ failure resulted in the IRS filing a federal tax lien against him for three of those years and a federal tax account balance of $411,673 with accrued interest and penalties. The Appeals Commission also affirmed the Commission’s finding that, while the federal tax lien had been released and Mr. Wachs had paid off a portion of the tax debt, there still remained a large outstanding balance. The Appeals Commission affirmed the Commission’s finding that, as of the date of the hearing before the Commission, Mr. Wachs had made payments but had not set up a formal payment plan with the IRS to pay back his outstanding federal tax debt of approximately $300,000. Among other things, the Appeals Commission affirmed the Commission’s finding in aggravation that Mr. Wachs had consistently chosen to make other payments in lieu of back taxes, including his children’s private school, real estate commitments, insurance policy premiums and business expansion. Pursuant to the decision of the Appeals Commission, Mr. Wachs’ Order of Suspension for one year and one day is effective from April 20, 2023, until April 21, 2024.

OREGON

Mateusz W. Sudol (Beaverton, Oregon): In May 2023, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Sudol received a suspension of his right to use the CFP Board certification marks for two years. In the order, the Commission found that Mr. Sudol engaged in Exam Misconduct by discussing the March 2021 CFP® Exam in a 45-minute phone call with another candidate for CFP® certification who had already taken and passed the March 2021 CFP® Exam, and then further soliciting Exam Material from the candidate via text message conversations. In response to his solicitations, Mr. Sudol received questions, answers and calculations the candidate had observed on the March 2021 CFP® Exam. Further, based on his memory from taking the March 2021 CFP® Exam, Mr. Sudol disclosed, in whole or in part, Exam Material from his March 2021 CFP® Exam, including two questions from the March 2021 CFP® Exam to the same candidate via text message. Mr. Sudol’s conduct violated subsection s. and subsection u. of the Exam Misconduct section of CFP Board’s Pathway to CFP® Certification Agreement, which provides that Exam Misconduct includes: (1) retaining the Exam questions or disclosing the Exam questions in whole or in part to any other person or entity; and (2) attempting to give or receive assistance, or otherwise communicating about the Exam during the Exam administration. The Commission issued to Mr. Sudol an Order of Suspension for two years. Mr. Sudol’s suspension is effective from June 30, 2023, until June 30, 2025.

TEMPORARY BAR

CALIFORNIA

Joseph A. Occhipinti (Orange, California): In March 2023, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Occhipinti received a Temporary Bar that prohibits him from applying for or obtaining CFP® certification for five years and requires him to complete an additional 120 hours of Continuing Education (CE) credits. The Commission found that Mr. Occhipinti engaged in Exam Misconduct by participating in a GroupMe chat group titled “March 2021 CFP® Exam,” wherein, after taking the March 2021 CFP® Exam, Mr. Occhipinti disclosed, in whole or in part, questions from his March 2021 CFP® Exam to the GroupMe chat group members. Mr. Occhipinti also published a list of exam topics from his March 2021 CFP® Exam and transmitted other content from his March 2021 CFP® Exam to the GroupMe chat group. The Commission found that Mr. Occhipinti attempted to give assistance to candidates who had not yet taken the CFP® Exam by communicating with them about his CFP® Exam during the March 2021 administration period. As a result, the Commission found Mr. Occhipinti’s conduct violated CFP Board’s Pathway to CFP® Certification Agreement, which defines Exam Misconduct, in part, to include: (1) “retaining the Exam questions or disclosing the Exam questions in whole or in part to any other person or entity;” (2) “disclosing, publishing, reproducing, or transmitting the contents of the Exam, in whole or in part, in any manner or by any means, for any purpose;” and (3) “attempting to give or receive assistance, or otherwise communicating about the Exam, during the Exam administration.” The Commission issued to Mr. Occhipiniti an Order of Temporary Bar for five years, beginning on the date he took the CFP® Exam, with Remedial Work. The Commission’s order is effective April 21, 2023. Mr. Occhipinti’s Temporary Bar is effective from March 12, 2021, until March 12, 2026.

Michael Sztrom (Del Mar, California): In February 2023, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Sztrom received a Temporary Bar that prohibits him from applying for or obtaining CFP® certification for five (5) years from the date of his relinquishment of his certification on October 20, 2020. On January 15, 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a Complaint against Mr. Sztrom, his son and Mr. Sztrom’s then-firm, Sztrom Wealth Management, Inc. (“SWM”), in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (“Court”). The SEC’s Complaint alleged that, between November 2015 and March 2018, Mr. Sztrom and his son breached their fiduciary duties and defrauded clients when they concealed that Mr. Sztrom was: (1) not associated with any registered investment adviser, (2) prohibited from providing investment advice under the aegis of the clients’ registered investment adviser, and (3) impersonating his son on telephone calls with the registered investment adviser's clearing broker on 38 occasions. The SEC Complaint specifically alleged that Mr. Sztrom’s role as a financial planner was a “sham.” The SEC's Complaint charged Mr. Sztrom, his son and SWM with violating the antifraud provisions of Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Advisers Act. The SEC’s Complaint also charged Mr. Sztrom with aiding and abetting another investment adviser’s violations of Section 204(a) of the Advisers Act and Rule 204-2(a)(7) thereunder for books and records violations. On October 5, 2022, Mr. Sztrom, his son and SWM settled the SEC’s Complaint, without admitting or denying the allegations of the Complaint, by each entering a Consent to Entry of Final Judgment, as reflected in a Stipulated Consent Judgment as to Mr. Sztrom that the Court entered on the same date. The Court’s Stipulated Consent Judgment as to Mr. Sztrom ordered him to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $25,000 and permanently restrained and enjoined him from violating, directly or indirectly, Section 206 of the Advisers Act. The Commission issued to Mr. Sztrom an Order of Temporary Bar for five years, calculated from the date Mr. Sztrom relinquished his CFP® marks on October 20, 2020. Mr. Sztrom’s Temporary Bar is effective from June 26, 2023, until October 20, 2025.

FLORIDA

Jeffrey Freiser (Land O’ Lakes, Florida): In March 2023, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Freiser received a Temporary Bar that prohibits him from applying for or obtaining CFP® certification for five years and voids the results of his CFP® Exam. The Commission found that Mr. Freiser engaged in Exam Misconduct by participating in a GroupMe chat group titled “March 2021 CFP® Exam,” wherein Mr. Freiser communicated about the March 2021 CFP® Exam during the administration period by seeking assistance from members of the chat group who had already taken the CFP® Exam and receiving assistance from them before taking the CFP® Exam. As a result, the Commission found Mr. Freiser’s conduct violated CFP Board’s Pathway to CFP® Certification Agreement, which defines Exam Misconduct, in part, to include “attempting to give or receive assistance, or otherwise communicating about the Exam, during the Exam administration.” The Commission issued to Mr. Freiser an Order of Temporary Bar for five years and determined to Void his results on the March 2021 CFP® Exam. Mr. Freiser’s Temporary Bar is effective from April 21, 2023, until April 21, 2028.

REVOCATION

CALIFORNIA

Lawrence A. Krause (Mill Valley, California): In July 2023, CFP Board issued an administrative order permanently revoking Mr. Krause’s right to use the CFP Board certification marks. This sanction followed Mr. Krause’s failure to acknowledge receipt of CFP Board’s Notice of Investigation, as required by Article 1.1 of the Procedural Rules. CFP Board sought to investigate allegations that Mr. Krause made unauthorized trades in a client account and settled that client’s complaint without disclosing it to his firm. Mr. Krause’s conduct may have violated Standard A.1 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, which requires a CFP® professional to follow the lawful instructions of his client, and Standard D.2, which requires a CFP® professional to comply with the lawful objectives of his or her firm. Under Article 4.1.a. of the Procedural Rules, Mr. Krause has been deemed in default, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Krause’s administrative revocation was effective as of August 28, 2023.

DELAWARE

Jason Cooke (Clayton, Delaware): In May 2023, CFP Board issued an administrative order permanently revoking Mr. Cooke’s right to use the CFP Board certification marks. This sanction followed Mr. Cooke’s failure to deliver proof of compliance with CFP Board’s Interim Suspension Order and file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint as required by Articles 2.3 and 3.2 of the Procedural Rules, respectively. On August 5, 2022, a Hearing Panel of the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission issued the Interim Suspension Order to Mr. Cooke after determining that he was arrested and charged with five felony counts of dealing in child pornography in the Kent County (Delaware) Court of Common Pleas (Case No. 2204014557). As set forth in CFP Board’s Complaint, CFP Board sought to investigate Mr. Cooke’s criminal charges and his termination from his firm. CFP Board alleged that Mr. Cooke violated Standard E.5 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct when he failed to satisfy his Duty of Cooperation by refusing to respond to CFP Board’s requests for information and a Notice of Failure to Cooperate. Under Articles 4.1.b. and 4.1.c. of the Procedural Rules, Mr. Cooke has been deemed in default, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Cooke’s administrative revocation was effective as of June 20, 2023.

FLORIDA

Randall B. Kiefner (Orlando, Florida): In July 2023, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Kiefner’s right to use the CFP Board certification marks. This sanction followed Mr. Kiefner’s failure to acknowledge receipt of CFP Board’s Notice of Investigation and deliver proof of compliance with CFP Board’s Interim Suspension Order as required by Articles 1.1 and 2.3 of the Procedural Rules, respectively. On April 25, 2023, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued Mr. Kiefner an Interim Suspension Order after receiving evidence he was charged with a felony crime associated with the possession of child pornography. CFP Board sought to conduct its own investigation, but Mr. Kiefner did not cooperate with that investigation. Mr. Kiefner’s conduct may have violated Standard E.2 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, which requires a CFP® professional to refrain from conduct that reflects adversely on his or her integrity or fitness as a CFP® professional, upon the CFP® marks or upon the profession. Under Articles 4.1.a. and 4.1.c. of the Procedural Rules, Mr. Kiefner has been deemed in default, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Kiefner’s administrative revocation was effective as of August 28, 2023.

TEXAS

Stephen Y. Kwan (Spicewood, Texas): In July 2023, CFP Board issued an administrative order permanently revoking Mr. Kwan’s right to use the CFP Board certification marks. This sanction followed Mr. Kwan’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required time frame. CFP Board alleged that Mr. Kwan violated Standard E.5 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct when he failed to satisfy his Duty of Cooperation by refusing to respond to CFP Board’s requests for information and a Notice of Failure to Cooperate. CFP Board sought to investigate a 90-day suspension of Mr. Kwan’s registration as an investment adviser representative issued by the Texas State Securities Board on November 2, 2022 (Texas Disciplinary Order). As a result of the Texas Disciplinary Order, CFP Board had imposed an interim suspension of Mr. Kwan’s right to use the CFP Board certification marks on December 14, 2022, pending CFP Board’s completion of its investigation. Mr. Kwan failed to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 30 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 3.2 of the Procedural Rules. Under Article 4.1.b. of the Procedural Rules, Mr. Kwan has been deemed in default, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Kwan’s administrative revocation was effective as of August 7, 2023.

John Poulos (Colleyville, Texas): In July 2023, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Poulos’ right to use the CFP Board certification marks. This sanction followed Mr. Poulos’ failure to acknowledge receipt of CFP Board’s Notice of Investigation and deliver proof of compliance with CFP Board’s Interim Suspension Order as required by Articles 1.1 and 2.3 of the Procedural Rules, respectively. On January 27, 2023, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued Mr. Poulos an Interim Suspension Order after receiving evidence that he was charged with causing the violent death of his then-fiancée in Colombia and fleeing that country to avoid prosecution. CFP Board sought to conduct its own investigation, but Mr. Poulos did not cooperate with that investigation. Mr. Poulos’ conduct may have violated Standard E.2 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, which requires a CFP® professional to refrain from conduct that reflects adversely on his or her integrity or fitness as a CFP® professional, upon the CFP® marks or upon the profession. Under Articles 4.1.a. and 4.1.c. of the Procedural Rules, Mr. Poulos has been deemed in default, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Poulos’ administrative revocation was effective as of August 28, 2023.

PERMANENT BAR

KENTUCKY

Douglas Hawkins (Lexington, Kentucky): In July 2023, CFP Board issued an administrative order permanently barring Mr. Hawkins from applying for or obtaining the CFP Board certification marks. This sanction followed Mr. Hawkins’ relinquishment of his certification and failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required time frame. CFP Board alleged that, in February 2023, Mr. Hawkins was convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky for investment fraud, securities fraud and mail fraud in connection with his role in a scheme to defraud investors in a real estate portfolio. In that case, the court found that Mr. Hawkins made material misstatements and material omissions about the nature of the investments and about the portfolio properties. The court also found that he concealed his own conflicts of interests in promoting those investment opportunities. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Hawkins’ conduct violated three provisions of the Rules of Conduct. First, CFP Board alleged that Mr. Hawkins violated Rule 1.4, which provides that a CFP® professional must place the interests of a client ahead of his or her own. Second, CFP Board alleged that Mr. Hawkins violated Rule 4.1, which provides that a CFP® professional must treat clients fairly and provide professional services with integrity and objectivity. Third, CFP Board alleged that Mr. Hawkins violated Rule 4.3, which provides that a CFP® professional must comply with all applicable regulatory requirements governing professional services. Mr. Hawkins failed to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 30 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 3.2 of the Procedural Rules. Under Article 4.1.b. of the Procedural Rules, Mr. Hawkins has been deemed in default, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Permanent Bar. Mr. Hawkins’ administrative permanent bar was effective as of August 28, 2023.

about cfp board

CFP Board is the professional body for personal financial planners in the U.S. CFP Board consists of two affiliated organizations focused on advancing the financial planning profession for the public’s benefit. CFP Board of Standards sets and upholds standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification — widely recognized by the public, advisors and firms as the standard for financial planners — so that the public has access to the benefits of competent and ethical financial planning. CFP® certification is held by nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. CFP Board Center for Financial Planning addresses diversity and workforce development challenges and conducts and publishes research that adds to the financial planning profession’s body of knowledge.

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Joseph Feese
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202-379-2305
media@cfpboard.org
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