U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 23623 / August 22, 2016
Securities and Exchange Commission v. John M. Ragsdale, Civil Action No. 2:16-cv-02889-DCN (D.S.C., filed August 19, 2016)
SEC Charges South Carolina Resident with Aiding and Abetting Penny Stock Fraud
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has charged South Carolina resident John M. Ragsdale with aiding and abetting a penny stock fraud involving now-defunct U.S. public company Global Earth Energy, Inc. (Global Earth), formerly based in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The SEC's complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division, alleges that from August 2013 through mid-2014, Global Earth made materially false and misleading statements in press releases to the public and in public filings with the SEC. Most of the false and misleading statements involved Global Earth's alleged partner, Hawk Manufacturing Corporation (Hawk), a now-defunct private company based in South Carolina. Ragsdale was Hawk's Chief Executive Officer and Hawk's principal decision-maker. Global Earth falsely and misleadingly claimed, among other things: (1) that Global Earth and Hawk had exchanged 20 percent of their common stock, when they had not; (2) that the value of the Hawk stock exchange was nearly $5,000,000, when there was no reasonable basis for that valuation; (3) that Hawk proposed to acquire businesses with existing credit facilities of $10 million or $25 million, when Hawk had no such funding; (4) that Hawk had completed various material business acquisitions, when Hawk had not; and, (5) that Global Earth and Hawk had merged, when they had not. The SEC's complaint further alleges that Ragsdale knew that Global Earth's press releases relating to Hawk were false and misleading, that he drafted and/or reviewed the press releases in advance of their release, and that he approved the issuance of the false and misleading press releases knowing that the press releases would be disseminated to the investing public.
The SEC's complaint alleges that Ragsdale aided and abetted Global Earth's violations of the antifraud provisions of Section 10 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. The SEC's complaint seeks against Ragsdale a permanent injunction, officer and director bar, penny stock bar, and civil penalties.
In addition, the SEC today instituted public administrative proceedings against Global Earth, and against any successor under Exchange Act Rules 12b-2 and 12g-3 or new corporate name, pursuant to Section 12(j) of the Exchange Act, to determine whether the SEC should suspend or revoke the registration of each class of Global Earth's securities, for Global Earth's failure to comply with Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-20, 13a-1, 13a-11, and 13a-13 thereunder. The SEC alleges that Global Earth is delinquent in its periodic filings with the SEC, and that Global Earth made materially false and misleading statements in reports filed with the SEC relating to Hawk. The SEC previously had suspended trading in Global Earth stock.
The SEC's investigation was conducted out of the Atlanta Regional Office by Lucy T. Graetz and Aaron W. Lipson, under the supervision of William P. Hicks and Walter E. Jospin, in coordination with the Enforcement Division's Microcap Fraud Task Force. The SEC's litigation will be led by Pat Huddleston II and M. Graham Loomis.