The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Donald M. Hoerl, director of its Denver Regional Office, is leaving in August after more than 30 years at the agency.
Mr. Hoerl led four different regional offices at various times during his tenure. He became director of the Denver office in 2008 after serving 11 years as its associate regional director for enforcement. He previously headed the Philadelphia and Salt Lake offices, and served as acting director of the Fort Worth office for a period in 2011. Mr. Hoerl has spent more than 35 years in federal service including his time as an assistant U.S. attorney before his arrival at the SEC.
“Don has amassed an impressive record of accomplishment over decades of work on behalf of investors,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White. “His willingness to pitch in and serve in so many different roles demonstrates his unwavering commitment to the agency and its mission. His dedication to public service is exemplary.”
Mr. Hoerl said, “I feel extremely fortunate to have found myself in a career that combined important service to others and very talented colleagues committed to the same purpose. I am thankful for having had that opportunity. I will miss the SEC and the many wonderful people I have had the privilege of working with over the years.”
In 2012, Mr. Hoerl received the SEC’s Distinguished Service Award, considered the agency’s highest individual honor. Mr. Hoerl began working at the SEC in 1982 as a trial counsel in the Denver office, and he later became chief trial counsel. He then headed the Salt Lake office from 1987 to 1993 and led the Philadelphia office from 1993 to 1997 before returning to Denver. While leading the Denver office, he served as acting director of the Fort Worth office from April to September 2011.
As head of the Denver office, Mr. Hoerl oversaw a staff of 100 responsible for enforcement and examination programs in a seven-state region. The office brought a number of important accounting fraud cases, including actions against Joseph P. Nacchio and other former officers of Qwest Communications International Inc., based on misstatements about the company’s revenue and growth, against former officers and directors of NorthWestern Corporation, whose now-bankrupt utility subsidiary overstated its performance while conducting an $800 million public offering in 2002, and against American Italian Pasta Company and its former senior executives for scheming to inflate the company’s reported earnings.
Other notable enforcement actions during Mr. Hoerl’s tenure in Denver include market-timing cases against advisers Invesco Funds Group, and Janus Capital Management LLC. The actions resulted in settlements of approximately $325 million and $100 million respectively, which were distributed to investors. The Denver office also successfully litigated actions against three former executives and an independent director of Omaha-based infoUSA Inc., alleging that they caused the company to pay almost $9.5 million of unauthorized and undisclosed perquisites and enter into $9.3 million of undisclosed related party transactions that supported the lavish lifestyle of the company’s founder and former CEO.
More recently, Mr. Hoerl oversaw a $35 million settlement with Oppenheimer Funds Inc. and its sales and distribution arm to resolve claims that they made misleading statements about two Oppenheimer mutual funds struggling in the midst of the credit crisis in 2008.
As head of the SEC’s Philadelphia office, Mr. Hoerl supervised the early investigation of one of the first enforcement cases later brought relating to the operations of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and its subsidiaries based on their failure to follow rules regarding the clearance, settlement, and valuation of securities. In another precedent-setting matter under his direction, the Philadelphia office argued in a broker-dealer misappropriation case for an expansive definition of the “in connection with” requirement of Section 10(b) of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act that the Supreme Court ultimately endorsed in its 2002 decision in SEC v. Zanford.
Mr. Hoerl’s early tenure in the Denver and Salt Lake offices was marked by a number of significant cases targeting cold-calling “boiler room” operations that promoted penny stocks to vulnerable investors. These cases carved out important legal principles in the broker-dealer arena and led to the demise of a number of prominent brokerage firms in the region, including Blinder Robinson and Co.
“Don’s service to the SEC in numerous different offices and roles over 30 years has been extraordinary. His leadership, excellent judgment, keen sense of justice, and his calm and reassuring manner, has assured the success of the offices he directed and he will be sorely missed,” said Andrew Ceresney, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
During the last four years, Mr. Hoerl played a leadership role in the reorganizations of the Division of Enforcement and the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. He served on the SEC’s Claims Review Committee, which recommends actions on claims made to its Office of the Whistleblower.
“Under Don’s leadership, the Denver examination program has been energetic, determined, and creative. I want to congratulate and thank Don for his distinguished service to investors, our markets, and the Commission,” said Andrew Bowden, Director of the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations.
Mr. Hoerl’s career includes public service as an assistant U.S. attorney in Denver from 1976 to 1982 and as a deputy district attorney in Pueblo, Colo. He received his B.A. degree from the University of California at Los Angeles, and his J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law.
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Following Mr. Hoerl’s departure, Julie Lutz and Kevin Goodman will serve as acting co-regional directors of the Denver office.