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Judge upholds penalties against Towson 'Money Guys' firm

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge has upheld penalties the state attorney general's office levied against the Towson firm behind the "Money Guys" commercials for fraudulently misrepresenting the risks of their investment strategy.

In March, the securities division of Attorney General Brian E. Frosh's office suspended Everest Investment Advisors' registration as an investment adviser for one year and revoked owner Philip Rousseaux's registration. The order also permanently barred Rousseaux and his related firm, Everest Wealth Management, from the investment advisory business and fined him and his companies a combined $255,000.

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Rousseaux and his companies appealed the decision, arguing that the penalties were arbitrary and capricious, meaning the decision was disproportionately harsh and unprecedented.

In her denial of the appeal, Judge Althea M. Handy said the penalties were within the state's authority and supported by substantial evidence.

Rousseaux vowed to continue the fight by appealing to the state Court of Special Appeals "because the judge is simply wrong."

"Everest Wealth Management is disappointed with the judge's decision, as always we remain open and the team of professionals is here to serve our clients," Rousseaux said in an email. "No client was stolen from, harmed, or lost money."

Everest Investment Advisors is an investment advisory firm and Everest Wealth Management is an insurance brokerage firm.

Frosh announced in June 2015 that his office's securities division was investigating Rousseaux and his companies for multiple securities violations, including fraud in connection with the offer, sale or purchase of securities; and dishonest and unethical practices. The attorney general has not alleged that client funds were misappropriated.

"This case sends a strong message to any business that engages in fraudulent or deceptive investment advisory activities," Frosh said in a statement. "The Securities Division of my office will continue to protect consumers from these dishonest, unethical practices that can put at risk the hard-earned savings and investments of Marylanders."

The Maryland Insurance Administration also investigated and sought sanctions against Everest Wealth Management and Rousseaux.

The insurance administration revoked Rousseaux's insurance producer license, but Everest Wealth Management remains licensed.

In addition to its infomercials, Everest has sponsored Orioles radio broadcasts on WJZ-FM and has advertised in The Baltimore Sun.

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