Remember Tommy Belesis? Founder and CEO of preeminent boiler room John Thomas Financial? Breakout star of Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps? Mentor to Shia Labeouf? Guy who enforces rules at his shop about not letting junior employees sit down, who has cultivated an atmosphere in which senior brokers rub the balls of a bull every morning for good luck and walk around saying things like "motion creates emotion" without any irony, and who generally gives the impression he proudly displays towels in his guest bath that have been hand-stitched with the phrase "Don't pitch the bitch," which he make sure to point out during house tours? This may come as a surprise, as it seems so out of character, but he's been charged with fraud and intimidation that in one instance involved suggesting an employee ought to look both ways before crossing the street.
The charges represent the latest in a string of setbacks for Belesis, a regular talking head on CNBC and Republican fund-raiser who has been honored by New York’s GOP leaders as “Businessman Man of the Year.” Last month, Belesis was slapped by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The regulator filed an administrative action against Belesis and George Jarkesy, a Houston radio host, for allegedly deceiving investors in two hedge funds Jarkesy managed in order to enrich themselves at the investors’ expense. Both men denied the allegations. Finra, the brokerage industry’s self-regulatory body, said Belesis and other JTF staffers conspired to block the firm’s brokers from selling clients’ shares of America West Resources, a tiny Salt Lake City-based coal company, in February 2012. At the time, the stock was in the midst of a 600 percent run up, and Belesis allegedly unloaded the firm's shares — allowing JTF to pocket $1 million, according to the complaint. Customers were less fortunate. Out of the 15 sell orders JFT received that day for AWSR, only one was executed, Finra said. The company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, rendering customers’ investments “virtually worthless,” the complaint read.
Belesis was also charged with intimidating and harassing brokers who questioned him or tried to leave the firm. He threatened to run over one broker “in the street” because the broker complained about the quality of the people being brought in to give investment presentations, according to the complaint. The watchdog said he also threatened to improperly mark up the broker’s license to undermine the broker’s ability to get another job. Upon firing another broker, Belesis screamed: “f--k you, you’re done in this business, you’re done in this business, get the f--k out of here,” according to the complaint.
Finra charges Wall Street boss Thomas Belesis and four staffers with fraud, intimidation [NYP]
FINRA Files Complaint Charging John Thomas Financial, CEO Tommy Belesis With Fraud [BusinessWire]
Related: “Brokers who show up with stubble are sent to the bathroom, where a bow-tied attendant dispenses razors, cologne and candy.”