U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 20679 / August 12, 2008
SEC v. Michael E. Kelly, et al., Case No. 1:07-CV-4979 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Court Permanently Enjoins Cedar Park, Texas Resident Warren Todd Chambers and His Company Century Estate Planning, Inc. from Violating Certain Antifraud and Registration Provisions
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that on August 6, 2008, Judge Elaine Bucklo of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered an order permanently enjoining Warren Todd Chambers (Chambers) of Cedar Park, Texas and Century Estate Planning, Inc. (Century Estate Planning), Chambers' business, from violating certain of the antifraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws. The order, entered with Chambers and Century Estate Planning's consent, permanently enjoins them from violating Sections 5(a), 5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Sections 10(b) and 15(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rules 10b-5 and 10b-10 promulgated thereunder, and enjoins Chambers from aiding and abetting violations of Rule 10b-10 of the Exchange Act.
The SEC's complaint in this matter charges that Michael E. Kelly and 25 other defendants, including Chambers and Century Estate Planning, participated in a massive fraud on U.S. investors that involved the offer and sale of securities in the form of Universal Lease investments. Universal Leases were structured as timeshares in several hotels in Cancun, Mexico, coupled with a pre-arranged rental agreement that promised investors a high, fixed rate of return. The SEC's complaint alleges that from 1999 until 2005, Kelly and others, including Chambers and Century Estate Planning, raised at least $428 million through the Universal Lease scheme from investors throughout the United States, with more than $136 million of the funds invested coming from IRA accounts. The SEC further alleges that a nationwide network of unregistered salespeople who sold the Universal Leases, including Chambers and Century Estate Planning, collected undisclosed commissions totaling more than $72 million. The SEC also alleges that Kelly and others ran the scheme from Cancun, Mexico, through a number of foreign entities in Mexico and Panama. According to the SEC's complaint, Kelly and others told investors that Universal Leases would generate guaranteed income through the leasing of investor timeshares by a large, independent leasing agent. In fact, the complaint alleges the leasing agent was a small Panamanian travel agency controlled by Kelly and for most of the scheme its payments to investors came from accounts funded by money raised from new investors. Further, the complaint alleges that Kelly and others, including Chambers and Century Estate Planning, failed to disclose key facts about the Universal Lease investments, including the risks of the investments and that more than $72 million in investor funds were used to pay commissions as high as 27% to the selling brokers. The SEC continues to pursue its claims against Chambers and Century Estate Planning for disgorgement and civil penalties. The SEC's action against the remaining defendants is also pending.
For additional information, see Litigation Release Nos. 20267 (Sept. 5, 2007), 20573 (May 14, 2008), 20578 (May 15, 2008), 20579 (May 15, 2008) and 20664 (July 31, 2008) [SEC v. Michael E. Kelly, et al., Civil Action No. 07-CV-4979 (N.D. Ill.)]