U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 21691 / October 7, 2010
SEC v. Scott R. Sand and Ingen Technologies, Inc, Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-23602-PAS (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida)
SEC v. Jeffrey Galpern, Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-23603-JLK (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida)
SEC v. Jean R. Charbit and Tzemach David Netzer Korem, Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-23604-CMA (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida)
SEC v. Anthony Mellone, Alex Parsinia, Larry Wilcox, Macada Holding, Inc. f/k/a Tri-Star Holdings, Inc., Zcom Networks, Inc., and The UC HUB Group, Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-23609-JAL (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida)
SEC v. Bruce Palmer and AccessKey IP, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-23601-DLG (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida)
SEC v. John "Buckeye" Epstein, Steven E. Humphries, Earthworks Entertainment, Inc., and The Fight Zone, Inc. a/k/a Gold Recycle Corp., Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-23606-AJ (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida)
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged more than a dozen penny stock promoters and their companies with securities fraud for their roles in various illicit kickback schemes to manipulate the volume and price of microcap stocks and illegally generate stock sales.
The SEC worked closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the separate schemes were uncovered through FBI undercover operations conducted in such a way that no investors suffered harm. The U.S. Attorney today announced criminal charges against some of the same individuals facing SEC civil charges.
The defendants, who are all insiders or promoters of publicly traded microcap companies, sought to manipulate the volume and price of microcap stocks and to generate stock sales through the payment of illegal kickbacks. The defendants thought they were paying-off corrupt pension fund managers, stockbrokers, or promoters, but these individuals were in reality undercover FBI agents or cooperating sources. In related criminal prosecutions, the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida today announced criminal charges against some of the same individuals the SEC sued.
The defendants reside or are based in South Florida, Nevada, California, New Mexico, and Texas. According to the SEC's complaints, which were all filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, most of the schemes involved the defendants paying kickbacks to purported corrupt pension fund managers or stockbrokers, who in return would use their clients' accounts to purchase the publicly traded stock of microcap issuers the defendants controlled or promoted. In one other scheme, a promoter paid another apparently dishonest promoter to make a microcap company's share price rise through false and misleading press releases, e-mail blasts, and newsletters. In all of the schemes, what the defendants did not know was that the individuals with whom they arranged the illegal transactions were actually FBI agents or confidential sources participating in an undercover operation. The undercover operation was conducted in such a way that no investors suffered harm.
The Commission's complaints allege that the defendants in some of the schemes, understood that they needed to disguise the kickbacks as payments to phony consulting companies, which they knew would perform no actual work. In other instances, the defendants knew that the purported corrupt fund managers and brokers would be violating their fiduciary duties to their clients by taking part in the kickback schemes.
The complaints allege the defendants violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The SEC is seeking: permanent injunctions and financial penalties against all the defendants; disgorgement plus prejudgment interest against the defendants that received ill-gotten gains; officer and director bars against the individual defendants who served as officers or directors of the microcap companies involved; and penny stock bars against all the individual defendants.
The SEC acknowledges the assistance and cooperation of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Division in investigating these matters.