SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A financial advisor in Shelby Township is facing fines in the millions of dollars after the Michigan Attorney General's Office revoked his brokerage license.
Clients have to trust a financial advisor when they hand over their hard-earned savings. St. Clair Shores investor Robert Kowalewsky said he trusted his advisor for 25 years without a reason to worry, until everything went south.
"He needs to be put in handcuffs," Kowalewsky said.
Kowalewsky thought he knew his longtime broker Ernest Romer III very well.
"You'd never think -- his wife works for a church. He's got three or four kids, always talked about the family and blah, blah, blah," Kowalewsky said. "Next thing I know, I'm getting the shaft."
He told Local 4 he gave Romer $46,000 to invest in an individual retirement account. Instead, after the check cleared, Kowalewsky received a frightening IRS notice.
"I owe money in back taxes, $15,000 for stocks that I sold in 2015," Kowalewsky said. "I said I didn't sell any stocks. I put everything into an annuity."
He and his sister immediately hit the internet, where they discovered Romer's long and checkered past. The federal government had barred him from selling securities, and the state of Michigan took Romer's license and find him $1.5 million.
"Stunned," Kowalewsky said. "I was mad, really mad."
Romer filed for bankruptcy twice in 2014, and the government dismissed both attempts because he didn't file proper paperwork. But the records show he owed money to the IRS, the state of Michigan and collection agencies.
Kowalewsky said he's not sleeping. He worries about his retirement and his son's impending wedding.
"I was going to give him some money for the wedding," Kowalewsky said. "I don't know if I can give him any money now."
Kowalewsky filed a civil suit against Romer, and Romer hasn't responded. The judge in the case is ordering Romer to pay the $46,000 back, and Kowalewsky's attorney is looking to put a lien on property Romer allegedly owes.