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Financial adviser to NFL players barred by FINRA

(Reuters) - A Florida broker who is accused of steering more than 30 professional football players to invest a total of $40 million in a now-bankrupt casino has been barred from the securities industry, Wall Street's industry-funded watchdog announced on Thursday.

Jeffrey Rubin, who operated the former advisory firm, Pro Sports Financial Inc in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, agreed to the permanent bar in a settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) dated Thursday. Rubin, whose firm provided financial-related services to professional athletes for an annual fee, neither admitted nor denied FINRA's findings, according to the settlement.

Among the players who were steered into the casino deal: Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress, Clinton Portis, Santonio Holmes, Santana Moss, Fred Taylor, Jevon Kearse and Kyle Orton.

Rubin could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rubin, between 2006 and 2008, recommended that one of his NFL clients invest a total of $3.5 million - the majority of his net worth - in four high-risk securities, including an Alabama-based casino and entertainment project that filed for bankruptcy last year, according to FINRA. About 31 current and retired NFL players eventually sank - and lost - a total of about $40 million into the project based on Rubin's referral, said FINRA.

The case illustrates the risks facing many professional athletes, whose lucrative pay deals at a young age and frequent lack of financial savvy can make them easy prey for investment scams. Advisers who steer athletes into risky deals can often earn huge fees at the expense of their clients. Rubin, for example, received a 4 percent ownership stake in the casino project and at least $500,000 in exchange for the casino project, according to the FINRA settlement.

(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn and Ashley Lau in New York; editing by Jennifer Merritt, Gerald E. McCormick and Matthew Lewis)

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