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Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) arbitrator Alvin Green is ordering David Lerner Associates Inc. to pay claimants Florence Hechtel and Joseph Graziose $24,450 for the Apple REITs that they bought from the firm. They will get the money after returning the Apple REIT 9 shares to the company. The Apple REIT is the 14th largest non-traded real estate investment trust in the US. David Lerner & Associates also will have to reimburse them their $425 FINRA claim filing fee.

According to Graziose and Hechtel, the financial firm misrepresented the Apple REIT 9, as well as breached its fiduciary duty and contract to them. Other Apple REIT investors have made similar claims. However, of the hundreds of arbitration claims (there are also securities lawsuits) that have been pending, this is the first one to go to hearing.

Per FINRA, since 1992 David Lerner & Associates has sold close to $7 billion in Apple REITs, making about $600 million in revenue from the sales (60-70% of the firm's business since 1996). It is the only distributor of Apple REITs.

Last year, the SRO charged the financial firm with soliciting investors to buy Apple REIT Ten shares (a $2 billion non-traded REIT) without performing a reasonable investigation to make sure the REITs were suitable for these clients. Many of its Apple REIT investors are not only unsophisticated investors but they are also elderly. David Lerner & Associates also allegedly offered misleading information about the distribution online.

Several months ago, FINRA also sued firm owner David Lerner for similar alleged misconduct, including misleading clients about the valuation and risk involved in their Apple REIT Tens. The complaint against Lerner follows statements he is accused of making to investors after FINRA made its charges against the financial firm.

Per the amended complaint, Lerner wrote to over 50,000 clients to "counter negative press." This letter also talked about a potential opportunity for Apple REIT shareholders to take part in a listing or a sale on a national exchange to get rid of their shares at a reasonable price. Also, at a seminar he hosted Lerner allegedly made statements to investors that were misleading.

The most important of investors' rights is the right to be informed! This Investors' Rights blog post is by the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., located in Boca Raton, Florida. For over 30 years, Mr. Pearce has tried, arbitrated, and mediated hundreds of disputes involving complex securities, commodities and investment law issues. Our law firm is devoted to protecting investors' rights nationwide! Please visit our website,, post a comment, call (800) 732-2889, or email Mr. Pearce at for answers to any of your questions about this blog post and/or any related matter.