Military Law

Suspect in Afghan Civilian Attacks Was Previously Accused in Stockbroker Fraud

The Army staff sergeant suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians was once accused of stockbroker fraud, resulting in a finding of liability by an arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Robert Bales has been described as a gregarious man who was once the captain of his football team, the Los Angeles Times reports. He was married, with two children. But before he joined the military, Bales was an Ohio stockbroker banned from trading after he failed to pay the arbitration award against him and other traders, according to the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The New York Times says a FINRA arbitration panel ordered Bales and several traders to pay more than $1.2 million in 2003, while the Post says an arbitrator ordered Bales and the owner of the firm that employed him to pay $1.4 million, about half of it punitive damages. According to the Post, Bales had been accused of churning the retirement account of an elderly Ohio client to increase his commissions, replacing valuable stocks with penny stocks.

After his stockbroker work, Bales moved to Florida and started an investment company with his brother. The Los Angeles Times says he made more than $100,000 a year as an investment adviser and owned an oceanfront condo. He enlisted in the Army after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bales’ lawyer, John Henry Browne, says his client has little memory of the attacks, the Associated Press reports.

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