Merri Jo Gillette Named Regional Director of the SEC's Midwest Regional Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., June 8, 2004 - The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today the selection of Merri Jo Gillette as Regional Director of the Commission's Midwest Regional Office (MRO). Ms. Gillette will oversee both enforcement and examination programs within the MRO's jurisdiction, which is comprised of nine states. She is expected to assume her new post in late June. Ms. Gillette succeeds Mary Keefe, the former Regional Director, who has taken a position in the private sector.
Ms. Gillette is currently the Associate District Administrator for Enforcement in the Commission's Philadelphia District Office (PDO). She joined the SEC in 1986 as a staff attorney in the PDO and served in other enforcement positions of increasing responsibility in the PDO including Branch Chief from 1989 to 1990, Chief Trial Counsel from 1990 to 1994, Assistant Director from 1994 to 1998 and District Trial Counsel from 1998 to 2003.
Over a period of 18 years, Ms. Gillette has investigated, litigated or supervised numerous enforcement matters alleging violations of each of the federal securities laws including many with precedent-setting outcomes. These include a financial fraud at the largest non-profit healthcare organization in Pennsylvania; the first case in which the Commission sued individual audit managers for fraud in connection with violations of GAAP and GAAS; a $71 million fraud by a Pennsylvania investment adviser who reinvested municipal bond offering proceeds on behalf of local school districts and municipalities; the first enforcement action against a face-amount certificate company; and SEC v. Zanford, a case involving fraud by a broker-dealer who stole customer funds. Ultimately, this case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned the Fourth Circuit, holding that the "in connection with" requirement had been met and that the Commission had jurisdiction over such conduct.
More recently, Ms. Gillette's enforcement group in Philadelphia participated in the Commission's nationwide enforcement initiative to clamp down on undisclosed revenue sharing arrangements in connection with the distribution and sales of mutual funds. Under her leadership, the PDO brought the first two enforcement actions in this area involving Morgan Stanley and Massachusetts Financial Services, Co. Her staff also sued Pilgrim Baxter & Associates, Ltd., adviser to the PBGH Funds, and its two principals, charging them with fraud and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with market timing of the PBGH Funds. And finally, the PDO enforcement staff, under Ms. Gillette's direction, brought two cases against broker-dealer firms for failing to disclose to customers that, in connection with recommendations to purchase Class B mutual fund shares, Class B shares are subject to higher annual fees that could have a negative impact on the customers' investment return.
SEC Chairman William Donaldson said, "Merri Jo Gillette has distinguished herself as a manager and as a lawyer throughout her career with the Commission. As Associate District Administrator in charge of the Philadelphia District Office's enforcement program, Merri Jo has initiated a number of important cases that have made our markets safer for investors. I look forward to working closely with Merri Jo in her new position as the Regional Director of the SEC's Midwest Regional Office."
SEC Director of Enforcement Steve Cutler stated, " Merri Jo is a lawyer of considerable talent who has played a large role in many of the successful cases brought by the Philadelphia District Office over the past several years. She will bring an enormous amount of energy, tenacity and passion to her new role as the leader of our Midwest Regional Office."
Ms. Gillette added: "The Midwest Regional Office has long held an impressive record in accomplishing the SEC's mission. I look forward to joining their team of talented enforcement and examination professionals and to working with other federal and state law enforcement agencies throughout the Midwest region."
Ms. Gillette received her BA degree from Northwestern University in 1979 and her JD from Dickinson School of Law in 1982.