Aspen man sues advisor over lost investments |

Aspen man sues advisor over lost investments

John Colson

Aspenite Robert Sharp is suing a local investment advisor over the alleged loss of nearly $1 million, accusing her of various kinds of fraud and mismanagement.

The suit was filed this week in Pitkin County District Court against Esmerelda Sanjust Di Tevlada, Todd Bossart and their firm, Velocity Management, Inc.

Although the suit does not say exactly how much money is being sought, Sharp is claiming that while Sanjust was managing his stock portfolio he lost more than $860,000, as well as paying her investment fees of approximately $98,000 and investing another $100,000 into a “hedge fund” that reportedly was managed by Sanjust and Bossart.

Sanjust, asked whether she had any comment on the allegations in the suit, said, “Not really,” based on the advice of her attorneys, who she said would be “vigorously” defending her in the case.

According to the suit, Sharp was enrolled in stock trading courses at the Market Wise Stock Trading School, also known as the “Top Gun School for Electronic Trading,” and had opened a $50,000 Market Wise account in March 1999.

But after two weeks of trading, the suit states, he had lost $5,000 and “was concerned that he did not have the necessary experience” to do his own trading.

Sanjust, whose office is “immediately adjacent” to the Market Wise offices, allegedly learned that Sharp and other students were doing poorly in the market and offered her expertise.

Sharp claims she is “an unlicensed investment advisor” who has not passed the Series 7 test for investment counselors (similar to the bar exam for lawyers); has not registered with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission or the Colorado Securities Commission; is not a member of the National Association of Securities Dealers or the Securities Investor Protection Organization; and that she “knowingly and purposefully was not registered to avoid scrutiny.”

Sharp also accused Sanjust of making a number of inflated claims about her abilities as an investment advisor.

Sharp claims that by March 2000, his deposits into his investment account had reached a “net equity value of $867,000,” and that “over the course of the next eight months, Sanjust lost nearly all of it.”

He maintained that he was left with only $33,000 as of Nov. 13, 2000, and that the losses were not due to market fluctuations but to “gross and professional negligence by Sanjust in the management of Mr. Sharp’s … portfolio.”

He admitted in the suit to being “an unsophisticated investor,” but maintained that Sanjust and Bossart are guilty of “fraud and misrepresentations” that violated their “fiduciary duty” to Sharp and others.

The suit is demanding that Sanjust disclose her trading activities, profits and losses, repay the management fees he paid to her and pay an unspecified amount to compensate him for his losses.

Sharp also accused Sanjust of making a number of inflated claims about her abilities as an investment advisor.

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