Former Sacramento radio talk show host charged by SEC over alleged fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission this week accused a Sacramento radio talk show host with alleged fraud in connection with his investment firm.

In a federal complaint filed Thursday, the SEC accuses Keith Springer of Springer Financial Advisors with receiving millions of dollars in compensation after recommending investment products to clients who were unaware of his conflicts of interests associated with those products.

The complaint against Springer was first reported by the Sacramento Business Journal on Friday. In an interview with the trade publication’s reporter Mark Anderson, Springer said he was surprised by the allegations and had not reviewed the complaint filed Thursday. Yet he denied the allegations contained in the filing, telling the news outlet he had “nothing to hide” and calling the accusations “baseless.”

The SEC says Springer “actively targeted vulnerable retirees” by misleading them about his status in the local financial industry. The regulator also said Springer didn’t disclose conflicts of interest to hundreds of clients.

“This is their way of getting a headline or some money from me,” Springer told the Business Journal.

Springer hosted a radio program on Sacramento’s KFBK (1530 AM, 93.1 FM) and sister-station KSTE (650 AM) for several years, the show largely produced in order to promote his business.

The complaint filed Thursday says Springer told clients he was selected by KFBK and KSTE to host the program because of his expertise in the industry. But the SEC says Springer actually paid the radio stations in exchange for them broadcasting his show.

This so-called “pay-to-play” arrangement is not unusual on talk radio, particularly in overnight hours and on the weekends when fewer people tune in. KFBK and KSTE both continue to air programs that fall under this type of arrangement. Springer’s show, which is pre-recorded, continues to air.

KFBK and KSTE, operated by iHeartMedia, Inc., were not accused of wrongdoing.

Springer said he had retained a local law firm to defend himself against the charges.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Springer’s KFBK radio program had been “off the air for several years.” The show continues to air on the station; it no longer airs on KSTE.