U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 23691 / November 22, 2016
Stanley Jonathan Fortenberry (a/k/a S.J. Fortenberry, Jon Fortenberry, and Johnny Fortenberry), Securities Act Release No. 9742 (Apr. 7, 2015)
United States v. Stanley Jonathan Fortenberry, No. 6:16-cr-21 (N.D. Tex. filed August 10, 2016)
Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Obstructing an SEC Administrative Proceeding and Other Charges
On November 18, 2016, Stanley Jonathan Fortenberry (a/k/a S.J. Fortenberry, John Fortenberry, and Johnny Fortenberry) of San Angelo, Texas, pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with obstruction of justice and other charges in connection with two investment companies he ran that defrauded investors out of approximately $900,000 over a four-year period.
On April 28, 2014, the SEC instituted public administrative and cease-and-desist proceedings against Fortenberry. The Division of Enforcement alleged that Fortenberry ran an investment company called Premier Investment Fund (Premier), which raised funds from investors for social media projects run by another company with ties to the country music industry. The Division also alleged that Fortenberry misled investors about the profitability of the company and about the destination of the investors' funds. From October 20 through October 22, 2014, an SEC administrative law judge held a hearing on the Division's allegations in Dallas, Texas. During that hearing, Fortenberry was asked about his involvement with Wattenberg Energy Partners (Wattenberg), which raised funds for oil and gas drilling projects in northern Colorado. In response, Fortenberry testified, under oath, that he did not have any control of, or do any work for, Wattenberg. In reality, Fortenberry set up Wattenberg in his son's name because of the SEC's investigation. On August 10, 2016, a grand jury sitting in the Northern District of Texas indicted Fortenberry for obstruction of justice in the proceedings and for other related charges.
On March 2, 2015, an SEC administrative law judge issued an initial decision finding that Fortenberry willfully violated the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, including Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 206(1), 206(2), and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. The administrative law judge imposed a cease-and-desist order and ordered Fortenberry to disgorge $146,500 plus prejudgment interest, pay a $900,000 civil money penalty, and be permanently barred from the securities industry. On April 7, 2015, the initial decision became final.
The SEC thanks the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas, and the FBI's Dallas Office for their efforts in investigating and prosecuting the case.