Local News

Securities agent under investigation for embezzlement

Posted September 17, 2009 5:51 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2009 6:39 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina's secretary of state has suspended the license a Johnston County securities salesman after allegations that he embezzled from some of his clients.

Charles Mark Hall, owner of Market Street Advisors in downtown Smithfield, is accused of embezzling millions from his clients. The company worked with Boston-based Cantella & Co. to offer financial products.

Cantella terminated its relationship with Hall in August after he admitted to misappropriating customer funds.

So far, authorities have not filed any criminal charges against Hall, but Secretary of State Elaine Marshall suspended his license while her office and the state Department of Insurance investigate.

"To just stop somebody in their tracks – sometimes, that's the best relief, or certainly, the first relief, to be able to stop the process of draining bank accounts and other investment accounts," she said.

Hall could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Joe Finora, a spokesman for Cantella, said Thursday that Hall is accused of embezzling about $2.5 million from as many as 10 to 12 clients.

"We can't say much because it is an ongoing investigation, but at this point, we're hopeful that it is contained," Finora said.

He declined to comment further but said the company has notified the affected clients. It's not clear, however, whether they will get back their money.

A letter from Cantella posted on the Market Street Advisors building, indicates it is no longer affiliated with Hall or his company and promises other clients that their investments are safe and will not be affected.

The letter says two employees, including Hall's son, will remain as local representatives for the company to handle accounts. They have not been implicated in any scheme.