A former advisor out of California stole nearly $740,000 from a Major League Baseball player to fund personal expenses, including tuition, travel and tickets to the Los Angeles Lakers, according to new charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
According to a new complaint filed by the commission in California federal court, Marc Frankel used the stolen funds to pay for personal charges put on a credit card with the name of his deceased mother.
Frankel is based out of Tarzana, Calif., and is the owner of MJF Advisors. He was affiliated with Partnervest Advisory Services until he was fired in 2020, according to his AdviserInfo profile. He had previous stints with Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup as a registered rep, but was suspended by FINRA in 2013 for failing to abide by an arbitration award or settlement, or for failing to respond to a compliance information request, according to his BrokerCheck profile.
According to the complaint, in 2012, the MLB player (not named in the complaint) told Frankel he needed to wholly concentrate on his career and wanted Frankel to manage his assets. Frankel had the authority to manage all of the ballplayer’s assets and various accounts with the advisory firm.
The MLB player also opened an account with the firm with checking capabilities through an attached bank account that he used to pay his personal assistant and other expenses (which Frankel allegedly had access to). Though this account wasn’t used for buying or selling securities, Frankel would transfer funds from the player’s brokerage accounts into it at times and also would take advisory fees from the account.
Starting in 2017, Frankel began misappropriating funds from this account, according to the SEC. To do so, he set up ACH payments on an American Express card account under his deceased mother’s name using the ballplayer’s account information to make the payments.
While the American Express account was under his mother’s name, Frankel had a card connected to it in his own name and would use it for personal expenses like “Lakers tickets, his children’s college tuition, jewelry, electronics and travel.” Though his first transfer totaled more than $11,600, he typically only transferred between $2,000 and $4,000, in order to mirror the account’s typical activity, according to the commission.
Around May 2020, the ballplayer’s sports agency noticed odd transfers from a separate account at the firm and began looking into all of the client’s accounts. When Frankel found out, he told the agency that he’d reviewed all transfers in the account he used to withdraw funds, allegedly lying that nothing was suspicious.
The following month, the agency discovered the unauthorized ACH transfers, and Frankel falsely told them the transfers were the fault of the ballplayer’s personal assistant.
Though he stopped transferring funds out of this account because it was being watched, Frankel continued misappropriating funds from another client to pay for personal expenses he’d put on the card connected to his mother’s account, according to the SEC. In total, Frankel stole more than $740,000 from the two clients, the commission argued.
Frankel could not be reached for comment as of press time. The SEC wants the court to prohibit Frankel from further anti-fraud violations, and it’s also seeking disgorgement and civil penalties against the advisor, according to the complaint.