Articles Posted in Texas Securities Fraud

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is charging Matthew Fox and his Wayne Energy LLC with securities fraud. The regulator brought its Texas securities case in federal district court in the city of Sherman.

According to the Commission’s complaint, Fox raised about $950K for a joint venture that was supposedly involved in reworking and recompleting an oil and gas well. However, contends the SEC, Fox raised the funds by recycling offering documents from another oil and gas company that he previously ran (that company failed) rather than customizing the paperwork to this new venture and its specific risks.

Prior to setting up Wayne Energy in 2015, Fox had run Frisco Exploratory Company and it is the latter’s offering documents that he used. The Commission claims that the offering documents made a false statement, which was that Wayne Energy would not commingle its own money with the joint venture’s funds. The documents also falsely stated that the oil and gas company was licensed as an operator with the Texas Railroad Commission.

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Business partners Janniece Kaelin and Robert Allen Helms have pleaded guilty to bilking investors of up to $20M in a Texas-based Ponzi scam. The oil and gas financiers used the funds raised for energy ventures to cover their own expenses from 1/2010 to 12/2013.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission filed a securities fraud lawsuit against Kaelin, Helms, and their companies Iron Rock Royalty Partners LP and Vendetta Royalty Partners LTD in 2013. According to the regulato, they misled investors about their professional experience, meantime raising almost $18M that were supposed to go toward royalty interests in oil and gas.

Included among the alleged purchases they made: using investors’ money to pay for a 3 1/2-week trip around the world and paying for the more than $247K wedding of Kaelin’s daughter in Hawaii.

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In federal court in Texas, Charles Banks, the former financial adviser to ex-NBA star Tim Duncan, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Banks admitted to misleading Duncan into guaranteeing a $6M loan to a company that had financial connections to the ex-advisor.

Duncan, who retired from professional basketball in 2016, claims that he lost more than $20M through deals he was involved in because of Banks. The two first started working together in 1997 when Banks was employed with CSI Capital Management Inc. and Duncan was an NBA rookie. After Banks left the firm he continued working with Banks.

Banks encouraged Duncan to lend a company, Gameday Entertainment, $7.5M. The company then obtained a $6M bank loan using what Duncan contends was his forged signature. Banks was Gameday’s chairman at the time.

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Carlton Chadbourne Sayers has been indictment in district court. The 51-year-old is accused of Texas investment fraud and he is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity fraud, and bank fraud. The scam caused dozens of investors to lose over $3M.

According to the indictment, Sayers allegedly sought to bilk a number of fraud victims by asking that they lend or invest funds with him and Wellington & Franklin Financial. He allegedly promoted that their funds would go toward buying or renovating residential real property and would be securitized by interest in these properties. He also is accused of promising a significant return rate.

Instead, states the indictment, rather than invest the funds the way he represented they would be invested, Sayers failed to secure interests in actual property or, in instances when he and Wellington & Franklin Financial actually owned a residential property, it was one that had already been bought with a pre-existing loan from an experienced investor and to whom the property was already acting as a security. Sayers is accused of bilking dozens of inexperienced investors who thought they were getting involved in secure investments that were giving them an opportunity to make higher returns than they would have with other investments.

San Angeleno Man Goes to Prison Over Investment Scams
Stanley Jonathan Fortenberry of Texas has been sentenced to 78 months behind bars for running two investment scams and bilking investors of about $900K. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and mail fraud in 2016. Now, Fortenberry must pay over $890K in restitution and forfeit more than $311K.

Fortenberry ran Premier Investment Fund and raised money for social media projects operated by another company. According to prosecutors, the Texas man misled investors about that company’s profitability and regarding what their money would be used for. He admitted to diverting about half of investors’ money to himself and to his fundraising operation.

Fortenberry also ran Wattenberg Energy Partners, a company that raised money for oil and glass drilling projects in Colorado. He admitted to establishing the company under his son’s name because the US Securities and Exchange Commission was already investigating him about the way Premier investors’ funds were being used.

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Herschel “Tress” Knippa III, a Dallas, Texas resident, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. The former registered broker, who owned a commodities trading firm, was implicated over fraudulent market rigging involving ForceField Energy Inc. (FNRG), which was a supposed global distributor and provider of LED lighting products and solutions. Investors lost $131M because of the scam. 

According to court filings and facts submitted at the plea hearing, between 1/2009 and 4/2015, Knippa and others worked together to bilk those who invested in ForceField.  The conspirators artificially manipulated the price and volume of ForceField shares by 1) using nominees to buy and sell the stock but without disclosing this to investors and potential investors, 2) manipulating ForceField stock trading to make it seem as if there was real interest and genuine trading volume, and 3) hiding payments made to brokerage firms and stock promoters that marketed and sold the stock.

All the while, Knippa and others claimed that ForceField was an independent company. Also, they used disposable prepaid cell phones, encrypted message applications to communicate, and paid kickbacks in cash.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed Texas fraud charges against Patrick O. Howard, Optimal Economics Capital Partners, LLC (OE Capital) and Howard Capital Holdings, LLC. Howard controls the two Dallas-based companies., which have raised about $13M from 119 investors. The regulator is alleging that the money went to fraudulent offerings involving private fund investments in three limited liability companies and that Howard falsely presented himself as a registered investment adviser when, in fact, he was not. In addition to offering and selling units through OE Capital, he retained two firms to do the same and paid them a 5% commission.

The SEC is charging Howard and his companies with violating the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The regulator wants permanent injunctions, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.

According to the Commission, which filed its complaint under seal in Dallas federal court, Howard and his two companies promised investors 12-20% yearly returns, along with minimal risk. They also purportedly claimed that almost all invested money would go toward acquiring interest in revenue streams of the portfolio companies and that promised returns were insured.

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A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority hearing panel has expelled a Plano, Texas-based brokerage firm from the industry, barred its CEO, and ordered both of them to pay customers $24.6M in restitution. Red River Securities LLC and Brian Keith Hardwick are accused of engaging in fraudulent sales involving five oil and gas joint ventures. Of the more than $25M that customers invested in the oil and gas offerings, they were paid distributions of under $500K in total.

According to the Texas securities case, the regulator claims that over a four-year period, Hardwick and the Texas brokerage firm purposely and fraudulently misrepresented and left out material facts related to interests in oil and gas joint ventures that were issued by affiliate Regal Energy LLC issued. Also, contends the SEc;

· The oil and gas ventures failed to properly represent how much income was distributed to investors in other Regal Entity joint ventures.

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Halliburton Co. (HAL.N) has agreed to settle a securities fraud class action case for $100M. The case, brought in Dallas, accuses the oil field services providers of misrepresenting its possible liability in asbestos lawsuits and the benefits it expected from certain construction contracts, as well as a merger from nearly twenty years ago.

Lead plaintiff Erica P. John Fund Inc. filed the complaint in 2002 after the US Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating Halliburton’s accounting for revenue made from certain construction projects. The securities case accused the company of misleading investors when it purportedly understated its liabilities in the asbestos cases, overstated revenue from construction, and inflated the benefits of the Halliburton-Dresser Industries merger.

Former US Vice President Dick Cheney, who was chief executive of the company during the period at issue, settled the regulator’s charges against him for $7.5M in 2004. However, the lawsuit against the company has gone on for years.

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Texas First Financial CEO is Arrested For Fraud

Authorities have arrested Bobby Eugene Guess, an ex-Texas-based registered representative and the CEO and founder of Texas First Financial, for financial fraud. Guess promoted himself as a financial expert through financial seminars and radio promotions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

He is accused of running a Ponzi scam online involving two companies—StaMedia Inc., which is a Dallas company, and TenList Inc. According to the Texas State Securities Board, Guess was indicted for money laundering, securities fraud, theft, and taking part in organized criminal activity involving the multi-million-dollar sales of investments in an internet ad company.

Prosecutors contend that Guess and others sold $6M in investment contracts, stock certificates, and notes in Stamedia Inc. Also, he allegedly raised millions of dollars from Stamedia investors from ’14 to ’16 but did not disclose that the company’s net income and revenue were negligible. Investor funds were allegedly used to pay earlier investors the returns they were promised.

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