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Second lawsuit filed against Carmel financial adviser for losing or misappropriating money

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Posted at 5:16 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 17:16:03-05

CARMEL — A Carmel financial adviser is facing a second civil lawsuit accusing him of losing or misappropriating his client’s money.

Louis and Marsha Hill of West Lafayette filed the lawsuit Feb. 20 in Hamilton County against Brian Simms of Brendanwood Financial Brokerage and Brendanwood Financial.

Simms worked as the CEO of both Brendanwood entities, which is located at 11711 N. Meridian St. in Carmel, records show.

The Hills relied on Simms to handle their insurance and investment needs for more than a decade and considered Simms a “trusted and loyal friend and advisor,” read the lawsuit.

The Hills accuse Simms of misappropriating $450,719 of their money since January 2014 and allege Simms made “bogus statements” to try to hide his conduct.

The lawsuit says the Hills received statement summaries from Simms on how their funds and investments were performing, and were always assured by Simms that they were making money.

“The statements provided to plaintiffs between 2014 and 2020 appear to be bogus and fabricated statements,” read the lawsuit.

Simms has an “extensive history of financial problems and lawsuits” against him according to the lawsuit including mortgage foreclosure, civil collections, and bankruptcy.

The lawsuit accuses Simms of numerous law violations including fraud, negligence, breach of contract, and violations of the Indiana Securities Act.

Donna Wagner, a Hendricks County resident, filed a similar lawsuit Dec. 2 in Hamilton Circuit Court against Simms.

Donna Wagner relied on Brian Simms after the 2017 death of her husband, Michael Wagner, the lawsuit alleges.

“This is a tragic story of breach of trust,” read the Wagner lawsuit.

Simms assisted Donna Wagner in making death benefit claims on life insurance policies through North American Company for Life and Health Insurance and the Lincoln National Life Insurance Company.

Donna Wagner received death benefit proceeds, and Simms convinced the widow to invest the proceeds in additional insurance, annuities and investments, the lawsuit alleges.

Since Michael Wagner’s death, his wife wrote a total of 34 checks payable to Brendanwood Brokerage totaling $1 million and received deposits from Brendanwood Brokerage totaling $46,030 since her husband died, records show.

Brendanwood also received money from the Wagners’ prior to Michael’s death, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges in total $1,342,482 of Donna Wagner’s assets are missing, unaccounted for or lost and misappropriated by Simms and Brendanwood.

Simms made numerous misrepresentations to Donna Wagner so she would write numerous checks in “massive dollar amounts,” the lawsuit says.

The Indiana Secretary of State’s office would not confirm or deny they are investigating Simms or his businesses.

Simms has not been criminally charged in this case.

He has not responded to an email from RTV6 asking for his side of the story.

Simms’ attorney Justin Walton issued a response to the Wagner lawsuit to RTV6.

“We deny allegations of wrongdoing and plan a vigorous defense should this matter move forward,” Walton said.

Walton said Brendanwood is still open and operating and conducting business.

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