A Douglas County investment adviser formerly employed by an out-of-state firm has been barred from the securities industry for life after spending $31,000 from the bank account of an Omaha nonprofit music education group.

Mark Ciriaco agreed to the ban after an investigation by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or Finra, according to enforcement records released this month by the self-policing organization for the U.S. broker-dealer profession.

Ciriaco, Finra records say, was a director and treasurer of Sing Omaha, serving the choral group as an unpaid volunteer from 2009 to 2014. He was authorized to use a Sing Omaha debit card, Finra said. At some point, Finra says, he began using the debit card for unauthorized purposes.

“Those transactions totaled over $31,000 and included items such as payments of Ciriaco’s home utility bills, grocery purchases, professional licensing fees and cash withdrawals in amounts varying from $100 to $3,000,” reads the Finra summary of “facts and violative behavior.”

Sing Omaha has no comment on the matter, said Casey Garrigan, president of the nonprofit’s board.

There is disagreement about the amounts and types of spending Ciriaco was allowed to engage in with Sing Omaha money, said Frank Younes, Ciriaco’s Omaha attorney. Younes said Ciriaco chose not to dispute Finra’s ban because of the large expense involved and because he was planning to change occupations anyway.

Finra said Ciriaco entered the securities industry in May 2008, becoming a registered securities representative with St. Paul-based Securian Financial Services, which sells insurance, investments and retirement plans.

Ciriaco and Securian parted ways in October 2014, after the unauthorized spending was uncovered in July of that year, Finra said.

“The organization’s board of directors reviewed its bank statements and identified transactions tied to Ciriaco that the directors claimed were not related to the organization’s operations,” Finra said. “Members of the organization’s board confronted Ciriaco about the unauthorized expenditures and demanded repayment.”

Finra said Ciriaco agreed to repay the money, and after taking a loan to do so, was terminated by Sing Omaha.

Contact the writer: 402-444-3197, russell.hubbard@owh.com

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