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San Diego Securities and Financial Attorneys: Merrill Lynch Fires Fires Two Boston-Based Brokers For Stealing Client Funds

By Erwin J. Shustak, Esq. of Shustak Reynolds & Partners, P.C. posted on Wednesday, August 2, 2017.

Erwin J. Shustak

Erwin J. Shustak

Managing Partner

LocationSan Diego, California
New York, New York
Phone: (619) 696-9500 (Ext. 109)
(800) 496-5900 (Ext. 109)
Email[email protected]

Erwin J. Shustak, Esq.
619.696.9500 ex. 109
[email protected]

According to FINRA CRD registration records, Morgan Stanley fired two long term, Boston-based brokers, including one with 21 years of big-firm experience, for allegedly stealing client funds for their own, personal use. According to their FINRA Broker-Check records, available at, Merrill terminated James Polese and Cornelius “Cory” Peterson for cause on June 26 over “allegations of conduct involving misappropriating client assets.”

Polese, who had the title of senior vice president at Morgan Stanley, according to his LinkedIn profile, did not respond to a message left for him at his home. Peterson did not respond to e-mail messages, according to published sources.  A Merrill spokeswoman  declined to comment on the firings.

According to their FINRA records, Polese and Peterson had worked at Morgan Stanley’s 53 State Street branch for seven and six years, respectively, as members of the Willing Group. That team is led by James R. “Bob” Willing and John H. Buck III, whose website says they have worked together in the financial services industry since 1960 at firms that include Hornblower & Weeks and Loeb Partners.  Polese has worked with the group since 1995, moving with them from Wachovia Securities (and its Prudential predecessor) to UBS Wealth Management in 2004 and to Morgan Stanley in 2010. Peterson began his career in 2011 at Morgan Stanley.

The only prior indication of impropriety on Polese’s BrokerCheck record, aside from the termination notice and a 1986 college misdemeanor plea, is a customer complaint in late May alleging misrepresentation of managed account fees over the previous 16 months and seeking unspecified damages. The case is pending. Peterson’s record is clean, except for the dismissal notification.

Shustak Reynolds & Partners, P.C. focuses its practice on financial and securities matters and the securities industry affecting broker-dealers, registered representatives, investors and the financial services sector. For more information, contact Erwin J. Shustak, managing partner, at [email protected], or call 800.496.5900 for a free consultation.

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