U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 20689 / August 27, 2008
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Mark Joseph Peterson Boucher and Gary Paul Johnson,, Case No. CV 08-4088 (N.D. Cal. filed August 27, 2008); Securities and Exchange Commission v. John E. Brake,, Case No. CV 08-4089 (N.D. Cal. filed August 27, 2008)
SEC Charges Bay Area Investment Adviser, Others in Real Estate Investment Scam
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a Portola Valley investment adviser and newsletter publisher, Mark J.P. Boucher, with misleading clients into investing in two failed real estate development companies.
According to the Commission, Boucher helped raise around $20 million for the companies by falsely representing that the investments were secured by real estate, when in reality one of the companies owned no property, and the other owned a single property that was wholly underwater in debt. The Commission also sued the owners of each company, John E. Brake and Gary P. Johnson (both of Southern California) for misappropriating millions of dollars of investor funds to finance everything from beachfront homes to undisclosed side businesses. Boucher and Johnson have settled with the Commission without admitting or denying the allegations.
According to complaints filed today in federal district court in San Francisco, from 1999 through 2005, the defendants collectively raised about $20 million from investors based upon misrepresentations that the money would be used to fund large-scale real estate development projects and that the investments were secured by real property. In reality, the investments were not secured: one development company never owned property, and by the summer of 2002, the other company's lone property was so heavily debt laden that its debts exceeded potential profits. In the end, neither company successfully developed a real estate project, and investors lost millions of dollars.
The Commission alleges that many investors became interested because Boucher — a hedge fund manager and the author of the book The Hedge Fund Edge — recommended the investments in a monthly newsletter he circulated to his advisory clients.
The Commission's complaints allege that the defendants misused investor funds to pay for a wide variety of personal expenses. Among other things, Brake allegedly used investor funds to pay for a beachfront home rental in Carmel, California, luxury automobiles, a personal chauffeur, private jet travel, jewelry and designer clothing, while Johnson used investor funds to launch a failed furniture business. The Commission also alleges that Boucher used investor money to pay a portion of the mortgage on his personal residence.
Boucher, without admitting or denying the allegations in the Commission's complaint, has agreed to a permanent injunction from further violations of Sections 17(a) and 17(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 ("Securities Act"), Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder ("Exchange Act"), and Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Boucher will also pay a $100,000 civil penalty. In addition, Boucher has consented to the institution of public administrative proceedings against him in which he will be barred from serving as an investment adviser with a right to reapply after five years.
Johnson, without admitting or denying the allegations, has likewise agreed to a permanent injunction from further violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. Johnson has also consented to an order requiring him to disgorge more than $1.8 million in ill-gotten gains and approximately $700,000 in prejudgment interest, and to pay a civil penalty of $120,000.
Brake is charged with violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The Commission is seeking injunctive relief, disgorgement, and civil money penalties against Brake.
SEC Complaints in this matter