Courtesy photo Robert Burton, owner of Pinnacle Financial Consulting LLC of Lawrence, is under investigation by the state Attorney General's office for numerous illegal acts and misappropriation of clients' funds.Courtesy photo
ANGIE BEAULIEU/Staff photo According to the state's Secretary of State office, Robert Burton has opened a new business called Pinnacle Immigration at 225 Essex Street in Lawrence.
has not responded to numerous attempts for comment.
Burton, 35, owner of Pinnacle Financial Consulting LLC of Lawrence, told Castillo that his money would be placed in an IRA account with a diversified portfolio of publicly traded securities.
A year ago, after losing confidence in the way Burton
was managing his investments, Castillo
asked him to return all of his funds.
is a parasite to the entire Commonwealth.
did in Lawrence he
will do elsewhere if he
is not stopped."
State Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office has filed a lawsuit against Burton and his firm Pinnacle Financial, alleging numerous illegal acts and misappropriation of clients' funds.
business from the second floor of a century-old three-story brick office building at 170 Common St. overlooking Campagnone Common, located next to Lawrence Superior Court and several doors down from Lawrence City Hall
From there, the Attorney General's office alleged that Pinnacle Financial
has been "engaging in unfair or deceptive acts and practices in connection with their charging of advance fees and providing dozens of Massachusetts consumers purported mortgage loan modification services, bankruptcy petition preparation services, and financial and investment advice."
The Eagle-Tribune attempted to get comment from Burton for this story, but telephone and hand-delivered messages left at Pinnacle Financial's office were not returned.
The primary focus of the lawsuit filed by Coakley's
Office is that Pinnacle and Burton
allegedly exploited the foreclosure crisis to prey upon homeowners facing financial troubles and the loss of their home - particularly minority and non-native English speakers.
"After receiving consumers' investment funds, however, (Pinnacle and Burton) fail to invest the monies as promised, and instead use the funds for their own benefit.
Even after repeated demands, (Pinnacle and Burton) fail and refuse to return the funds to consumers," Assistant Attorney General Justin Lowe alleged in his complaint.
told him that he
would open an IRA account and invest his
savings in index funds and a diversified equities portfolio.
During 2008, he
told him he
was putting all of his
$25,000 in cash reserve because of the stock market crash.
"I began to lose confidence in Burton
's competency when he could not provide a reasonable explanation for why my money had remained in cash reserves since 2008 when the market had rebounded significantly over the past several years," Castillo
said in a signed affidavit in February that's included in the court records of the lawsuit against Pinnacle and Burton.
"At first, Burton
stated that the market was not safe and that I should seek out other investment alternatives such as gold or foreign markets.
provided no explanation for why he
had not done anything with my money since 2008.
At that point, I decided to withdraw all of my money from under Burton's management and invest it on my own through the Army," he
suspected that Burton
"had defrauded me when he
would not return my money.
to transfer all of his
funds into an Army Thrift Savings Plan account, a U.S. government-sponsored retirement savings and investment plan similar to a 401(k) account.
Even after he had arranged for a conference call between Burton and an Army Thrift Savings Plan customer service agent, Burton still didn't make the transfer and made excuses for the delay, according to court records.
later offered to send him a check for $10,000, claiming that's what would be left after taxes.
"I could not understand why Burton
would be withholding $8,000 in taxes when I had given him $25,000 in after-tax money in 2007," Castillo
never sent him any money back - "Not a dime."
An Attleboro resident who once had Burton as his next-door neighbor said he was befriended by Pinnacle Financial's chief executive officer, too, and said it cost him about $34,500 - for misplacing his trust in somebody who later misappropriated a $40,000 investment.
promised to double his
neighbor's money in just 30 days, according to court documents.
To the neighbor, Burton
"appeared very successful."
home is new and large, and he
drives two late model Mercedes Benz vehicles, including a 2008 S550 and a 2009 ML350," the neighbor wrote in an affidavit last month.
"Because I considered Burton
a good friend of mine, and because I trusted that he
would make good on his
promises to me, I agreed to participate in the July 30, 2012 investment opportunity."
The neighbor said he
a check for $40,000 - half of it was his
money; the other half was invested by his
The 30 days passed, and the neighbor never received the $80,000 he
Last September, Burton
told him he
had mailed out two $40,000 checks, but added the neighbor could pick up "replacement checks" at Pinnacle Financial
if the neighbor didn't want to wait for the mail.
Both checks were returned, marked "insufficient funds.
still insisted the funds were in the company's account.
Eventually, all the neighbor received was $5,500.
"Aside from numerous excuses and false assurances, Burton
has not provided any explanation for what happened to my money," the neighbor said.