SIDNEY – A third civil lawsuit involving embattled Fort Loramie insurance agent Ronald U. Schulze was filed in Shelby County Common Pleas Court Friday, May 11. A Minster woman is claiming her investment through Schulze, of more than $200,000, was misrepresented and unlawful.
Also, Schulze’s attorney admonished the SDN for repeatedly implying that Schulze is part of a Ponzi scheme. He claims the Schulze family lost more money in the same investment company than some of the alleged victims.
Barbara A. Brunswick, 149 Heitkamp Road, Minster, of Auglaize County, filed suit seeking the recovery of the principal amount plus compensatory damages on three causes of action. She claims her investment of $211,809.01 was lost two months after she entered into a contract when the company represented by Schulze filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Two others, Wanda Caudill, of Sidney, and John Seger, of Fort Loramie, have similar civil cases pending against Schulze in the local court.
According to online court records, Brunswick’s first cause of action is seeking the return of her investment of $211,809.01, costs and expenses, including reasonable attorney fees, for a violation of the Ohio Securities Act.
Secondly, Brunswick is seeking $211,809.01 plus interest in compensatory damages for negligent misrepresentation and negligent investment advice; and third, she is seeking the same amount for breach of contract.
For the compensatory damages, Brunswick is claiming Schulze had a duty to disclose all the risks associated with such an investment calling his directing her to the Woodbridge 4 fund an “irresponsible recommendation.” She also claims such a fund was not consistent with her “investment objectives and risk tolerance.”
Funds believed to be part of Ponzi scheme
Brunswick and her attorney Benjamin Segel of Dublin, Ohio, are alleging her money was lost to a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme now before the court in Florida.
The online court records filed by Segel, indicate that on Oct. 2, 2017, Brunswick invested $211,809.01 into the Woodbridge 4 fund transacted with Schulze. On Dec. 4, 2017, the Woodbridge Group of Companies, including Woodbridge 4, filed for bankruptcy.
On Dec. 20, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a federal lawsuit against Woodbridge and the company’s founder, Robert Shapiro, in Florida. Court records indicate Shapiro used money invested in Woodbridge to live a lavish lifestyle and for his own use. The Florida lawsuit indicates Shapiro was responsible for $1.22 billion in investments.
Schulze’s attorney, Roger Sugarman of Columbus, claims the SDN is wrongly portraying his client as an intricate member in the Ponzi scheme wrongdoings involving Shapiro. He stated again that Schulze doesn’t know Shapiro and was not part of a large Ponzi scheme.
Sugarman said there is nothing in the reported facts of the case to indicate Schulze knew of the activities of Shapiro-led companies. He said Schulze, and his wife, Victoria, have lost their own money having invested into the same funds. He claims the amount they invested are higher than figures reported by some clients.
In all previous articles, the SDN has clearly reported Schulze was selling investments that would be deposited in the Shapiro companies, but did not know him personally. It has also been noted that the Schulzes did indeed lose their own money in the Shapiro case.
Repeated attempts by the SDN to contact Schulze have proven futile.
Also, when contacted, Segel told the SDN he nor his clients do not discuss litigation matters with the media.
Securities license ceased in 2008
While Schulze reportedly gave up his securities license in 2008, Sugarman contends the Woodbridge products were not securities indicating his client was not selling products illegally.
Court records indicate Brunswick is accusing Schulze of fraudulently selling her a “securities” type investment for which he has been unlicensed to do so since 2008 when he resigned from the company.
In 2010, Schulze was sanctioned by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress. It serves as a watchdog for investor protection in the broker-dealer industry, according to information on their website at www.finra.org.
In 2017, FINRA brought 1,369 disciplinary actions against registered brokers and firms; levied $64.9 million in fines, and, ordered $66.8 million in restitution to harmed investors. The agency also referred more than 850 fraud and insider trader cases to the SEC and other agencies for litigation and/or prosecution.
FINRA records show that Schulze obtained his Series 6 securities license in 1994; earned his Series 26 license in 1995; and his Series 63 license in 1996.
On Oct. 13, 2008, Schulze was permitted to resign from World Group Securities, Inc., (WGS) after the company became aware he was involved in the solicitation of variable annuity business through a provider the company did not have a selling agreement with. The records show Schulze resigned during the investigation.
On Feb. 22, 2010, FINRA fined Schulze $10,000 and suspended him for selling investments for any authorized firm for three months beginning March 15, 2010. The record states, without admitting or denying the findings, Schulze consented to the described sanctions and to the entry of findings.”
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.