SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
LITIGATION RELEASE NO. 17409 / March 12, 2002
UNITED STATES V. SIDNEY WADE SERS, No. 6:00-CR-0006-01-C, USDC, NDTX (San Angelo Division)
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION v. TRINITY OIL AND GAS, INC., ET. AL.,
No.4-97CV-1018Y, USDC, NDTX (Ft. Worth Division)
OIL AND GAS STOCK PROMOTER RECEIVES 17 ½ YEAR PRISON SENTENCE FOR CONTEMPT, OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE AND MONEY LAUNDERING
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that on March 8, 2002, U. S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings in Lubbock, Texas, sentenced Sidney Wade Sers to 210 months in federal prison based on Sers' guilty pleas to contempt of court, obstruction of justice and money laundering charges. The criminal charges related to Sers' illegal transfer of nearly $1million, in violation of 1997 and 1998 court orders issued by U. S. District Judge Terry Means of Fort Worth. These orders were entered in a 1997 Commission enforcement action and enjoined the transfer of Sers' assets, those of Trinity Gas Corporation (Trinity) and the proceeds of any sale of Trinity stock.
At the time of the transfers, Sers, age 57, formerly of Brownwood, Texas, was the president and chief executive officer of Trinity, a Brownwood publicly traded oil and gas exploration and development company. From January 1998 until his arrest, Sers was a fugitive hiding in Columbia. Colombian authorities detained Sers on November 21, 2000 and deported him to Miami, Florida, where Sers was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.
In his guilty pleas before the Court, Sers admitted transferring $800,000 of Trinity stock proceeds deposited in a Natchitoches, Louisiana bank account bearing his daughter's name to a Cayman Islands bank account styled in the name of Trinity Gas Colombia - a Cayman Islands company owned and controlled by Sers. Sers also admitted laundering these proceeds through a number of transactions that involved the transfer of monies to Colombia, where he was hiding. Among other illegal transfers, Sers also admitted transferring roughly $100,000 through a Brownwood, Texas abstract company, converting the proceeds into cashiers checks and subsequently cashing the checks.
The Court's sentence stems from Judge Means' contempt referral to the U.S. Attorney's Office which developed during the course of the Commission's enforcement action in which the Commission charged Trinity and Sers with bilking Trinity investors out of over $11 million in an illegal "pump and dump" scheme - a scheme in which a company's share price is "pumped up" through false representations followed by company principals "dumping" their individual shares at the illegally and artificially inflated price. Judge Means later granted summary judgment in favor of the Commission against Sers and permanently enjoined him from violating the anti-fraud and securities registration provisions of the federal securities laws. Additionally, Judge Means ordered Sers to disgorge $11,607,442.00, representing his profits from the unlawful scheme. In the criminal case, Judge Cummings ordered Sers to make restitution of the same amount.
The Commission's staff worked closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas (Lubbock Division) and the FBI. A Commission attorney was appointed Special Assistant U.S. Attorney to assist in the criminal proceeding.