Bitter Brew: Houston-Area Adviser Must Repay $366,218 to Coffee Shop Investors

Oct 31

Jason Hyson LeBlanc, an investment adviser representative for Vere Global Wealth Management, has been ordered to repay $366,218 to individuals who bought promissory notes he sold to fund a Fort Bend County coffee shop.

LeBlanc’s wife was a part-owner of the coffee shop, located in Fulshear.

Texas Securities Commissioner Travis J. Iles entered a Disciplinary Order on Oct. 31 that requires LeBlanc to repay 14 individuals who bought the unsecured promissory notes.

LeBlanc sold the promissory notes while working as an investment adviser representative and agent for Girard Securities Inc. Girard fired LeBlanc in 2015 because he didn’t disclose the sales, or his duties with the company that owned the coffee shop, as an outside business activity. 

LeBlanc cannot solicit new accounts on behalf of his current firm for one year and he was placed on five years’ probation by the State Securities Board.

Under the conditions of probation, LeBlanc will not have trading authority on any client account at Vere Global Wealth Management; his supervisor must review and approve all information he obtains in connection with client accounts; and LeBlanc’s supervisor must review all electronic communications with clients before they are sent.

Even though the promissory notes were outside the scope of his work at Girard, LeBlanc solicited Girard clients for the notes, and 11 of the 14 investors were clients of the firm. Six clients withdrew funds from their Girard account to invest in the coffee shop.

The notes promised an annualized return of 8% for three years. They were issued through Missco Services LLC, a now-defunct entity that LeBlanc controlled. The Missco Services notes were sold as an investment in a coffee shop in Fulshear, in Fort Bend County.

Jason LeBlanc had no ownership interest in the two companies that controlled the coffee shop business, which were called Alpha Grounds Coffee LLC and Higher Grounds Java Holdings LLC. But he incorporated both companies, opened bank accounts for both, and served as chief financial officer for both.

Alpha Grounds closed in June 2017. The coffee shop shut down and sold its equipment at a loss.

LeBlanc registered with the Securities Commissioner as an investment adviser representative of Vere Global Wealth Management in 2016. When he registered he disclosed his corporate duties for Missco Services and the related companies.

However, LeBlanc failed to disclose the full extent of his activities for Missco, which included selling the promissory notes to clients at Girard Securities.

In 2017 the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred LeBlanc from working for any broker-dealer it regulates.