An ex-Morgan Stanley broker is learning that sometimes no good deed goes unpunished.

A 15-year-veteran of the Tennessee financial services business, John Stanton Verble, is suing his former employer Morgan Stanley after he said in the complaint that he was fired and allegedly harassed for helping the FBI bust one of its clients.

Verble’s lawyer Richard Neely at Neely & Callaghan in Charleston, W. Va., said that Morgan broke federal law when it fired the advisor in June 2013. Financial market employees that inform federal authorities of fraud and insider trading in the securities industry are protected by law, the lawyers said.

Verble, according to the suit, moonlighted as an FBI informant on a case involving Pilot Flying J, a gas station and truck stop chain owned and operated by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III.  Pilot Flying J was a Morgan Stanley client.

The suit claims Verble’s role as a whistleblower ultimately led the FBI in April 2013 to uncover a scheme to cheat trucking companies out of fuel rebates.  As a result, 10 sales managers from Pilot Flying J pled guilty to various counts of fraud in 2013.

Branch office manager David Elias confronted Verble in May of that same year about working with federal agents, and said “I’m going to take you outside and whip your ass,” according to the complaint.  Verble was discharged a month later.

According to court documents, Verble said the Morgan Stanley client had been caught breaking tax, accounting and other financial market rules between November 2006 and March 2010. The branch office allegedly ignored the irregularities.

The complaint was filed against Morgan in New York and the local Knoxville branch where Verble worked as a broker from June 2009 to July 2013. The case was filed February 19 at the U.S. District Court for Eastern Tennessee.


Morgan Stanley says it plans to fight the suit, telling The Wall Street Journal that “there is no basis” for the lawsuit.  FINRA’s BrokerCheck shows that Morgan Stanley fired Verble in June 2013 for “acceptance of funds from a third party outside of the firm’s compensation policy.”

Verble wasn’t unemployed for long.

He was immediately picked up as an advisor at Raymond James in Knoxville. He seeks damages equal to twice his $359,859 salary for the next 10 years, as well as the return of $263,000 held in Morgan Stanley brokerage accounts.

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