UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 17705 / August 30, 2002
Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Rel. 1621 / August 30, 2002
SEC v. James Murphy, Robert Lockwood and Gilboa Peretz, Civ. Action No. 00cv11981-PBS (D. Mass., Summary Judgment Granted on April 29, 2002); In the Matter of James Murphy, CPA, File No. 3-10878 (Order Issued on August 30, 2002)
SEC BARS JAMES MURPHY, FORMER CFO OF CENTENNIAL TECHNOLOGIES, FROM APPEARING OR PRACTICING BEFORE THE AGENCY
IN A SEPARATE PROCEEDING, SEC OBTAINS INJUNCTION, CIVIL PENALTY OF $150,000, AND OFFICER AND DIRECTOR BAR AGAINST MURPHY
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that it suspended James Murphy, pursuant to Rule 102(e)(2) of its Rules of Practice, forthwith from appearing or practicing before the agency based on his criminal conviction for securities fraud. Murphy is the former chief financial officer of Centennial Technologies, Inc. and was criminally convicted on June 1, 2000, in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts of multiple felonies involving a financial fraud at the company. Murphy's conviction resulted from his participation in a fraudulent scheme at Centennial to overstate the company's revenue, income, inventory, and fixed assets from the time of its initial public offering in April 1994 through the quarter ended December 31, 1996.
The Commission also announced today that on April 29, 2002, the Honorable Patti B. Saris of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts entered a summary judgment in its civil action against Murphy and enjoined him from violating and from aiding and abetting violations of the antifraud, reporting, books and records, and internal control provisions of the federal securities laws. Judge Saris also prohibited Murphy from acting as an officer or director of a public company for ten years and ordered him to pay a civil penalty of $150,000 for his violations.
The complaint alleged that between April 1994 and December 31, 1996, Murphy and Emanuel Pinez, Centennial's former chief executive officer, with the assistance of others, orchestrated a massive fraud which made Centennial appear significantly more successful than it was. Among other things, they caused Centennial to recognize revenue from invalid or nonexistent sales, to include fake items in inventory, and to make false additions to fixed assets. As a result of these improper activities, Centennial overstated its earnings for this period by approximately $40 million. Based upon the false statements about the company's profitability, the stock price increased significantly. It rose 451% in 1996 alone, to $55.50 a share at the end of December, making it the best-performing issue on the NYSE for year. On February 11, 1997, upon discovery of the financial irregularities at Centennial, the company announced that Pinez had been fired and Murphy relieved of his duties. Trading was halted in the company's stock; when it resumed on February 18, 1997, the price of Centennial stock had plunged to slightly over $3 a share. The complaint charged Murphy with violations of § 17(a) of the Securities Act, §§ 10(b) and 13(b)(5) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5, 13b2-1, and 13b2-2 thereunder, and aidingand abetting Centennial's violations of §§ 13(a), 13 (b)(2)(A), and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-20, 13a-1, and 13a-13 thereunder.