Traditionally, bucket shops in the U.S. have been associated with illicit activity with origins in the 19th century and the illegal resale of beer and alcohol. The term then spread to gambling houses, and now often refer to a “bucket-house” as any brokerage firm that has clear conflicts of interest with their clients or engages in unethical behavior. For example, if a broker tells a client they purchased stock for them at $20 a share when they actually paid $19 a share and pocketed the difference, that's known as “bucketing.” Bucket-house brokerages may also encourage clients to gamble on stocks at dangerously high leverage.
If you have a past conviction for running a bucket house, you may already have encountered problems with having a criminal conviction on your record. Having a criminal conviction for running a bucket house can prevent you from working as a broker or in many positions in the financial industry. It can also affect your ability to pursue other careers that require professional licensing, such as working as a teacher, an attorney, or an accountant. Fortunately, under Pennsylvania law, you may have a second chance, with the option to clean up your record through sealing.
Typically, expungement is the most thorough method of cleaning up a criminal record. However, Pennsylvania law strictly limits who can expunge a criminal record. If you don't qualify to expunge your record, sealing the record from public view may be your best option.
Charges for Keeping a Bucket Shop
The term “bucket shop” comes from England in the 1800s. Street children drained beer and liquor discarded by public houses and sold the alcohol to unlicensed bars. There, it was mixed and sold to unknowing customers in bards known as “bucket shops.” In the financial world, the illegal brokers who profited off small and sketchy trading activity also became known as bucket shops. We still use this terminology today to describe illegal trading activity.
Under Pennsylvania law, a person who keeps a bucket shop or assists in keeping a bucket shop may be guilty of a third-degree misdemeanor. The law defines a bucket shop as “a place where contracts, agreements, trades, or transactions respecting the sale or purchase of stocks, bonds, securities, grains, provisions or other commodities are made or offered to be made, to be closed, adjusted or settled upon the basis of public market quotations on a board of trade or exchange, but without a bona fide transaction on such board of trade or exchange.” 18 Pa. Stat. § 7316.
The only evidence required is that a “person has offered to make such a contract, agreement, trade, or transaction, whether the contract, agreement, trade, or transaction was accepted or not. Proof of a single instance wherein any person or another on his behalf, has made or offered to make any such contract, agreement, trade, or transaction, shall be conclusive that the place wherein the same was made is a bucket shop.” Id. You can be charged with a second offense if you keep operating the bucket shop.
Penalties for Keeping a Bucket Shop in Pennsylvania
Keeping a bucket shop is a third-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. If convicted, you could face up to one year in jail and fines of up to $2,500. However, there are also serious penalties for corporations involved in running a bucket shop. If a corporation is convicted, “its charter shall be forfeited by a proceeding in quo warranto, instituted either at the relation of the Attorney General or the district attorney.” A proceeding in quo warranto is a limited trial used for the purpose of determining if someone is entitled to a public or corporate office. If convicted of keeping a bucket shop under a corporate entity, you could lose your corporate charter.
Sealing Your Record for Keeping a Bucket Shop Through Clean Slate
In Pennsylvania, you have two potential options to seal your criminal record. In 2019, the legislature broadened access to sealing with new Clean Slate legislation. Under Clean Slate, the state will automatically seal qualifying records after five to ten years, depending on the record. These records will still exist and can be accessed by law enforcement agencies, but they'll be hidden from public view. You could qualify for Clean Slate sealing if:
- You have a conviction for a summary offense,
- Your conviction is only for a second or third-degree misdemeanor,
- You have a conviction for an ungraded offense, but it isn't punishable by more than two years in jail, or
- You don't have any convictions because of a case dismissal or not guilty verdict.
If you have a third-degree misdemeanor for operating a bucket house, you'll need to wait ten years after your complete your sentence and pay your fines before the state seals your record under Clean Slate. However, your eligibility can vary based on whether you have any other convictions. That's why you need attorney Joseph D. Lento and the experienced Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm.
Sealing Your Conviction for Keeping a Bucket Shop with an Act 5 Petition
You have another option if you don't qualify for Clean Slate's automatic sealing under Pennsylvania law. Under Act 5, you can petition the court to seal your record. While the process isn't automatic, it applies to a wider range of convictions. You may qualify to petition the court under Act 5 if:
- You wait ten years after completing your sentence and paying your fines,
- You don't have any more arrests or convictions punishable by a year or more in jail,
- You have a misdemeanor or ungraded offense that wasn't punishable by more than five years in prison.
You Need the Lento Law Firm Record Sealing Team
If you have a conviction for operating a bucket house and are ready to clean up your criminal record, attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can help. They've been helping Pennsylvanians like you for years. Find out what they can do for you. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact them online today.