U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 21338 / December 16, 2009
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Dean P. Gross and Gregory W. Laser, Case No. CV 09-9144 (AHM) (RHx) (C.D. Cal.).
SEC HALTS MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENT SCHEME
On December 14, 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged two Southern California residents, Dean P. Gross, age 47, residing in Agoura Hills, CA, and Gregory W. Laser, age 46, residing in San Diego, CA, with securities fraud in connection with a Ponzi scheme. The SEC obtained an emergency court order freezing their assets and halting the scheme.
The SEC alleges that Gross, doing business as Bridon Entertainment, and Laser raised more than $18 million by promising guaranteed returns on sales of advertising to large, well-known corporations. Defendants offered both short term (30-90 day) and longer term (one-year) investments. Typically, promised rates of return on the short term investment ranged from 8% to 30 %, while the year-long investment typically offered a return between 10% and 20%. In some instances, Gross offered a 40% return.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Gross purported to be an advertising industry veteran with extensive connections which allow him to buy advertising time and space at a discount, and to resell it at a substantial profit to large, well-known corporations. When Gross offered a short-term investment, he identified a specific well-known corporation he claimed he contracted with to buy advertising. Gross provided investors a fabricated contract that appeared to be between Bridon and a representative of the well-known corporation. Gross and Laser told investors that Gross would use their money to purchase advertising time and space, and that their promised returns would be generated by the profitable resale of that advertising to the specifically identified company. In fact, the contracts provided to investors were fake, and Gross did not have relationships with the well-known companies he claimed were his clients. Gross did not buy or resell advertising, and investors’ purported returns were not generated by the sale of advertising, but instead came from money raised from subsequent investors, in classic Ponzi fashion. The SEC’s complaint also alleges that Gross diverted at least $6 million to his personal use.
On December 14, 2009, the SEC obtained an order (1) freezing the assets of Gross and Laser; (2) requiring accountings; (3) prohibiting the destruction of documents; and (4) granting expedited discovery; and (5) temporarily enjoining Gross and Laser from future violations of the registration and antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. In addition to this emergency relief, the Commission’s complaint alleges that Gross and Laser violated Section 5(a), Section 5(c) and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The Commission’s complaint also alleges that Laser violated Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act by acting as an unregistered broker-dealer. The Commission’s complaint seeks a final judgment permanently enjoining the defendants and ordering them to pay disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and financial penalties.
The SEC’s investigation is continuing.