Articles Posted in Investor Fraud

NJ Investment Adviser Accused of Stealing Over $1M from Clients
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has brought investment adviser fraud charges against Scott Newsholme, a New Jersey-based financial adviser and tax preparer, accusing him of stealing over $1M from clients so he could support his lifestyle and support his gambling. According to the regulator, Newsholme generated fake account statements and “doctored stock certificates and forged promissory notes.”

Prosecutors have filed a parallel criminal case against him. Rather than invest clients’ funds in different securities as promised, Newsholme allegedly went to a check-cashing store to cash their checks and then kept their money for himself to cover his own expenses and gambling activities, as well as make Ponzi-like payments to the clients who wanted their money back.

Radio Host Accused of Stealing Millions of Dollars in Concert Ticket Scheme
Craig Carton, a sports radio host, is accused of running a concert ticket scam to bilk investors. According to the SEC’s complaint, he and Joseph Meli, another man whom the regulator had already filed charges against earlier this year, touted blocks of face value tickets to concert performances that were in demand and promised investors high returns that would come from ticket resales and their accompanying price markups.

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Aaron J. Johnson, a former registered investment adviser who ran Capital Advisors until state regulators took back his firm’s registration in 2013, is sentenced to five years behind bars for financial fraud. Johnson, 37, claimed that he stole over $600K from clients because he suffered a mental health breakdown.

According to prosecutors, Johnson took money from middle-class clients’ retirement accounts and charged them excessive fees to the point that he’d practically drained their funds. After Capital Advisors lost its registration, Johnson became affiliated with Trade PMR, a Florida-based firm that offers custody and brokerage services for investment advisers that are registered. Prosecutors contend that even then Johnson kept stealing from clients despite the fact that he was now under investigation. Prosecutors said that after Trade PMR began to question the fees that Johnson charged clients, including $3200 in client fees for an account that only held $13K in assets, the ex-adviser generated fraudulent documents as proof that his actions were warranted. He drained the account of the client, who was a single mom with three kids, until there was only $5 left.

Johnson has been ordered to pay back everyone that he defrauded.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has brought investment adviser against Jeremy Joseph Drake. He is accused of bilking a known professional athlete and his wife, making about $900K in compensation in the process. At the time of the purported financial fraud, Drake worked with HCR Wealth Advisers.

According to the regulator’s complaint, the couple entrusted over $35M of their assets to Drake to manage. As their investment adviser, he owed them a judiciary obligation.

The investment adviser fraud allegedly went on for over three years, during which time he allegedly told the couple that they were receiving a .15 to .20% fee rate on assets under management when they were actually paying a 1% fee. As a result, the athlete and his wife ended up paying $1.2M more in management fees than what they were told they had paid.

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Jason Galanis, an ex-investment banker, who is already serving eleven years behind bars for stock rigging, has been sentenced to five years in prison for fraud involving a Native American tribal bond. He must forfeit over $43M and pay nearly $44M of restitution.

In the tribal bond scam, Galanis and his father John Galanis are accused of convincing Oglala Sioux Tribe affiliate Wakpamni Lake Community Corp. of issuing $60M in municipal bonds. The two of them and others then misappropriated the proceeds from the bonds, including $8.5M for Jason personally. Meantime, bond investors were left with worthless securities while the tribal corporation had no means of paying the interest payments that it owed on the bonds.

According to the prosecution, the bond scam bilked Galanis’ tribal bond clients and the investing public while “defrauding the Native American tribe into issuing bonds.” Galanis and his co-conspirators sold the bonds, which were illiquid, to pension funds, and stole the profits. Meantime, they allegedly hid conflicts of interest and the fact that the bonds were not liquid.

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In the United States District Court in San Juan, the hedge fund Aurelius Capital has filed a lawsuit seeking to have Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy case dismissed. Aurelius Capital is the holder of more than $470 million of Puerto Rico General Obligation bonds (“GO Bonds”). All Puerto Rico GO bonds were supposed to have been guaranteed under the Commonwealth’s constitution. Now, however, GO bonds are subject to a five-year plan that could force bondholders to take substantial reductions on what they are owed upon repayment.

Puerto Rico filed for Title III bankruptcy protection in May. Although bankruptcy protection was not originally available to Puerto Rico, under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), the law was changed to allow for Puerto Rico to file a bankrupt-like procedure if it could not resolve all of its debt with bondholders.

As with other bankruptcies, the island has been granted a “stay” from creditors. Now, Aurelius wants the federal court to lift the stay, which has prevented it and other creditors from suing the Puerto Rican government.

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Businessman Accused of Taking Investors’ Money That Was Supposed to Go Toward Fighting Cancer
In a complaint brought by the SEC, the regulator has filed securities fraud charges against Patrick Muraca, a Massachusetts businessmen, accusing him of misappropriating investments that were supposed to go toward helping to develop cancer diagnostic tests. Instead, Muraca, who raised almost $1.2M through MetaboRX LLC and NanoMolecularDX LLC, allegedly transferred $400K of these funds to pay the rent of his fiancées restaurant businesses as well as for other purchases.

Now, the regulator is charging Muraca and his companies with Securities Act of 1933, Section 17(a) violations and Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 violations. The SEC wants disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, interest, and penalties.

Meantime, prosecutors have brought related criminal charges against Muraca.

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In a second superseding indictment to an ongoing Texas securities fraud probe, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas has brought criminal charges again against several people accused in an alleged multimillion dollar pump-and-dump scam. This latest indictment expands on the original criminal charges, which involved Chimera Energy Corp. stock and an alleged $6M scam.

With this latest indictment, investors of 12 stocks were allegedly defrauded of more than $25M. Prosecutors said that the scam bilked investors in different companies through the use of fraudulent trading practices, the publication of misleading and false information via ads and press releases, and the circumvention of Securities and Exchange Commission reporting requirements.

Those charged in this latest Texas securities indictment include Andrew Ian Farmer, Charles Earl Grob, Carolyn Price Austin and Eddie Douglas Austin of Houston, John David Brotherton of League City, and Scott Russel Sieck of Florida for the parts they played in the alleged conspiracy fraud involving a dozen stocks, including Chimera Energy Corp. stock. The latter was the stock involved in the initial criminal indictment that brought charges against both Farmer and Thomas Galen Massey, also a Houston resident.

A federal grand jury has indicted the former business manager of Cleveland Cavaliers player Richard Jefferson for allegedly defrauding the professional athlete of $7M. Theodore Kritza is charged with more than 22 criminal counts related to financial fraud.

Jefferson reportedly paid the agency that Kritza worked for $250,000 a year to manage his financial accounts and pay his bills. Although Kritza did pay the NBA player’s bills, he also allegedly bilked him of millions of dollars.

According to the indictment, Kritza forged Jefferson’s signature on documents that gave the money manager power of attorney over the NBA athlete’s finances. Kritza also allegedly renewed credit lines, established new credit lines, and transferred funds from Jefferson’s accounts using his fake power of attorney. In 2012, the NBA player discovered numerous loans that had supposedly been initiated by him even though he did not give his consent.

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Lawrence Allan DeShetler is facing up to 20 years in prison for Texas investment adviser fraud. The Houston-based financial adviser pleaded guilty to mail fraud last month.

DeShetler fraudulently obtained $1.9M from clients he worked for through DeShetler & Company Inc. Three years ago, he started recommending that they take out money from their investments and give the cash to him so that he could help them garner higher returns. Instead of investing these funds, he put the money in a bank account that was only under his authority.

DeShetler admitted to using one investor’s funds to begin building a house in Nicaragua and persuading a senior investor, who was a widow in her eighties, to liquidate a trust account and move nearly $190K to him. Last year, DeShetler stayed at her house while she visited family. When she came back, he was no longer there and neither were her investment documents.

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In yet another investor fraud case in which the alleged fraudsters touted the sale of tickets from the musical Hamilton, Jason Nissen is charged with wire fraud in a $70M Ponzi scam. According to prosecutors, the CEO of National Event Co. raised money by falsely claiming that he would use investors’ funds to purchase and resell wholesale tickets for premier events, including the Broadway hit and the Super Bowl.

Although Nissen did buy tickets with some of the money, most of the funds purportedly did not go toward ticket purchases. According to court filings, what Nissen allegedly was actually doing with the funds was paying back earlier investors. After running out of new funds this month, he purportedly admitted to two investors that he’d bilked them. He also allegedly said that he’d forged documents to conceal his scam.

Among Nissen’s alleged victims are a diamond wholesaler that lent him $32M and a private equity firm, which gave him $40M to invest. This same firm owns part of National Event Co.

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