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Broker charged with stealing funds from retired Peabody landscaper

BOSTON Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has leveled charges against a broker who allegedly stole funds from a 65-year-old retired Peabody landscaper.

Bruce Colin Worthington, a former securities broker from Tewksbury, faces allegations that he withdrew nearly $100,000 from the retiree’s accounts and used the cash for his personal use.

In a 20-page complaint, the state’s Securities Division charged Worthington, who worked for Commonwealth Financial Network (CNF), with falsifying documents to show the client investments he had recommended were performing well. But when the client, who was not named, prepared to retire, Worthington allegedly told him the funds weren’t ready for withdrawal and eventually stopped replying to him, according to court documents.

Worthington previously worked for Founders Financial Securities, which fired him last year after questions were raised about customer funds prior to his association with Founders Financial, the complaint said.

Galvin’s office said Worthington failed to appear before the state’s Securities Division when subpoenaed last year.

From 2008 through 2011 Worthington produced false documents while the retiree believed his funds were in bonds and structured notes, the complaint said. In 2011, Worthington kept this scheme going by presenting a summary of his holdings which showed a separate account away from CFN in the amount of $113,439. In fact, prosecutors said, Worthington’s claims that he placed the funds in legitimate securities that generated substantial profit were false.

Worthington falsified documents, the court document alleges, presented to the client to cover up the fact that he took funds for his own personal benefit.

Worthington preyed upon the trust placed in him by the retiree, who had very limited knowledge regarding his investments, Galvin charged. Instead of providing legitimate financial information on the status of the retiree’s funds, Worthington repeatedly said his funds were appreciating and the funds were secure.

Beginning in 2013, Worthington experienced multiple changes in his employment as an adviser. After resigning that year as a CFN representative, Worthington became a registered representative of Founders Financial Securities LLC, but failed to tell his client about the change.

During this time, investigators say Worthington experienced a number of financial difficulties, including IRS tax liens totaling $281,353.

A year later, the mortgage holder on Worthington’s house foreclosed and took ownership of the property after he failed to make payments on a mortgage totaling $400,324.

In 2017, the client sought the whereabouts of his funds only to discover none of the funds were accounted for in any of the accounts he owned.

Despite multiple attempts to contact Worthington to withdraw these funds, the investor has been unable to get any response from Worthington.

The Securities Enforcement Division is seeking a cease and desist order against Worthington to prohibit him from practicing in Massachusetts and to reimburse investors for losses.

Worthington could not be reached for comment.

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