Ohio Animal activist, humane society director accused of stealing $700,000

He made a big splash in Central Ohio fighting for animal rights. Tonight, he’s fighting to stay out of prison. Luke Westerman is charged with 10 counts of felony fraud and theft. The former Columbus man is accused of stealing more than $700,000 over the past eight years from people who invested in his now-defunct company: Solomon Global Holdings. Westerman, 38, declined to be interviewed for this report. Instead, he sent NBC 4 Investigator Tom Sussi this Facebook message. “I would never do anything unethical,” he wrote. “It is completely against every single fiber of my being and everything I stand for." In November of 2017, Westerman left Columbus for El Paso, Texas, to run the city’s humane society. In an interview with El Paso Magazine just two months ago, he called it “my dream job.” Yesterday, Westerman lost his dream job. The organization’s Board of Directors fired him as executive director. “The allegations against Mr. Westerman have shaken the community's trust in the organization," the Board of Directors wrote in a statement. Westerman is free on a $50,000 bond. No pre-trial or trial date has been set.

Ohio Animal activist, humane society director accused of stealing $700,000

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Comment by Boris on January 12, 2019 at 2:13pm

fn hippies

Comment by Boris on January 10, 2019 at 6:31pm
EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) —

The Humane Society of El Paso is looking for a new top dog.

On Tuesday, the organization fired its embattled executive director, Luke Westerman. Westerman faces criminal charges in Ohio and was booked into jail on Monday.

But perhaps, he never should have been hired to begin with.

KFOX14 Investigates spent months digging into Westerman’s history and sat down with him for an interview.

It is clear, he is not who he appears to be.

He is accused of swindling $700,000 from people in Ohio. It also appears he also misrepresented who he was to the city of El Paso and the Humane Society.

“This has been the best year of my life, I have never been more fulfilled,” said Westerman.

Westerman described his past year as executive director of HESP, when KFOX14 Investigates met with him in December.

“I didn’t get to do this when I was working on Wall Street, how cool is this?” he said, petting a puppy.

It's a tale Westerman likes to tell, about his time as a big Wall Street broker.

But KFOX14 Investigates found it to be a brief stint that included changing employers three different times in just two years.

Those two years were littered with allegations of misconduct before his broker's license was ultimately suspended.

“The outcome of the FINRA [Financial Industry Regulatory Authority] investigation was that your license was suspended correct?” KFOX14 chief investigative reporter Genevieve Curtis asked Westerman in Dec.

“It was frozen until my former employer and I come to terms with that upfront bonus I was paid,” said Westerman.

His broker's license was suspended in 2010 after a financial regulatory body known as FINRA found he failed to comply with a settlement agreement.

Ohio court records show a judge ordered him to pay his former employer, Ameriprise, almost $200,000. Money he hasn't paid.

“They think they are entitled to that but I disagree,” said Westerman.

“The courts have ruled they are entitled to that though, Luke,” said Curtis.

“The courts have also ruled other things that are dishonorable and unethical,” said Westerman.

Financial investigator Greg Leach worked for Westerman's financial firm in Columbus, Ohio.

KFOX14 Investigates spoke with Leach in Ohio.

“To say the judgement against him is unethical is just an excuse, one of his millions of excuses,” said Leach.

KFOX14 Investigates looked up Westerman's history as a broker with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

His record shows on three separate occasions, clients accused him of forging their signature.

“Clients of yours said that you forged their documents,” said Curtis.

“That's not true,” said Westerman.

“That's what they alleged,” said Curtis.

“That's not what they alleged,” said Westerman.

“It says customer alleges that there were signatures not genuine,” said Curtis.

“It doesn't say I had anything to do with it,” said Westerman.

Even though, the incidents are documented on his broker’s license, which is public record.

Westerman also said he didn’t settle it. He said his employer paid the settlement amounts, around $5,000 each.

The records show the settlements were paid.

Westerman also said the sources KFOX14 Investigates used were not credible.

“FINRA is a credible organization, the SEC is a credible organization,” said Curtis.

"FINRA or SEC have never ever made any insinuation that I have ever done anything unethical.

Three Humane Society board members resigned in November after discovering Westerman was not who he claimed to be.

In a resignation letter, one board member said the organization should have conducted a full background check.

The same board member also said, a full background check would have shown that Westerman did not meet the minimum qualifications for the position, including the fact that he doesn't have a bachelor's degree.

It also appears Westerman claimed to have run the Westerman Family Foundation, b

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