Legal

He sues two men to reclaim money
By Greg Cappis, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/30/2013 05:35:52 PM PDT

REDLANDS — Millions of dollars were zapped from two accounts managed by a downtown brokerage firm — Thornes and Associates Inc. Investment Securities, 412 E. State St., according to a regulatory agency.

One of the accounts grants scholarships to help high school graduates pay for college. The other trust fund was designed to provide care to an elderly widow who has Alzheimer’s disease.

John Thornes and his company, Thornes and Associates, were named in a complaint filed Tuesday by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which regulates brokerage firms. The complaint alleges Thornes stole $4.2 million from the two trust funds and lent the money to friends to be spent on luxuries, including a private jet rental, casino gambling and a vacation home.

The loans, which a broker would not have the authority to make, were “undocumented, unsecured and have never been repaid,” according to the complaint.

Lawsuits were filed against the loan recipients in an attempt to recover the funds by Thornes and his attorney, William Saacke. The suits were filed before the complaint was published.

Saacke said via email that Thornes was taken advantage of through “psychological manipulation and false promises.”Thornes and Associates manages about 1,100 accounts worth about $120 million, according to the regulatory agency.

Much of the two trust funds mentioned in the complaint were depleted by Thornes, who oversaw the accounts, the complaint says, adding that he distributed the money to two friends as loans to be paid back within a year at interest rates between 15 percent and 20 percent.

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