U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 18476 / November 20, 2003
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Patrick Ballinger, Dennis R. Weaver, Kosta S. Kovachev, Lee E. Larscheid, Benny G. Morris, Darin W. Roberts, Linda M. Sears, Todd F. Walker, Branson City Limits, Inc., Resort Hotels, Inc., Universal Financial Leasing, Inc., and Ozark Ticket and Travel, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:03 CV-1659 LJN-WTL (S.D. Ind.) (McKinney, C.J.)
The Securities and Exchange Commission ("Commission") announced that on November 20, 2003, Judge John D. Tinders of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana entered orders of preliminary injunction against Missouri-based Branson City Limits, Inc., Nevada-based Resort Hotels, Inc., Patrick L. Ballinger ("Ballinger"), Dennis R. Weaver ("Weaver") of Jackson, Tennessee, Kosta S. Kovachev ("Kovachev") of Lake Worth, Florida, Lee E. Larscheid ("Larscheid") of Branson, Missouri, Benny G. Morris ("Morris") of Palm Harbor, Florida, Darin W. Roberts ("Roberts") of Branson, Missouri, Linda M. Sears ("Sears") of Seminole, Florida, Todd R. Walker ("Walker") of Tampa, Florida, Missouri-based Ozark Ticket and Travel, Inc. ("Ozark Ticket") and Nevada-based Universal Financial Leasing, Inc. ("Universal Leasing") (collectively, the "Defendants"), pursuant to their consent, enjoining the Defendants from violating the registration and antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.
On November 10, 2003, the Commission filed an emergency action against the Defendants to halt ongoing Ponzi schemes. Later that day, Chief Judge Larry J. McKinney entered temporary restraining orders ("TROs") and asset freezes against the Defendants, among other things. The Commission's Complaint alleged that, from at least September 2000 to the present, the Defendants offered and sold securities nominally structured as hotel timeshare rental interests in unregistered transactions to approximately 600 investors in 30 states. In connection with these offerings, the Defendants made false and misleading statements concerning, among other things, the use of investor funds, the source of investors' promised high returns, and the return of investors' principal. While the issuers, promoters, and sales force represented to investors that they would use the funds collected in the offerings to refurbish the timeshare units and pay an 11% return from subleasing the units, in fact, they used new investors' funds to pay returns to old investors as well as their personal and business expenses. The Commission sought TROs, preliminary and permanent injunctions, civil penalties, asset freezes, an order preserving evidence and appointment of a receiver, if necessary. The Order entered by Judge Tinders on November 20, 2003 continues the asset freeze entered by Chief Judge McKinney on November 10.