SEC Charges Head Sales Agent in South Florida Alternative Investments Scheme

Litigation Release No. 24570 / August 19, 2019

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Scott P. Strochak, No. 9:19-cv-81164-RAR (S.D. Fla. filed August 16, 2019)

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Boca Raton, Florida resident Scott P. Strochak, a former registered broker, for making material misrepresentations regarding an investment fund scheme that targeted retail investors, and for acting as an unregistered broker.

The SEC alleges that Strochak participated in a fraudulent scheme that raised nearly $3.8 million from at least seventeen retail investors until the SEC halted the scheme in February when it filed an emergency action against Castleberry Financial Services Group, LLC, its president T. Jonathon Turner and its CEO Norman M. Strell. According to the SEC's complaint, Strochak, who had decades of experience in the financial services industry, solicited investors using false representations that Castleberry investments were bonded and insured by leading insurance companies, even after he received several complaints from investors who were not provided proof of such insurance. Strochak also allegedly misrepresented Castleberry's profitability, despite knowing that Castleberry denied some investors' requests to withdraw their principal due to insufficient funds. The complaint further alleges that Strochak was reckless in repeating Castleberry's false claims that it had grown by $600 million in capital and 300 investors in 2018, when he knew that, as the sole sales agent until December 2018, he had brought in only about $2 million from about seven investors that year.

In a parallel criminal action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida criminally charged Turner, Strell and Strochak in May 2019. Strochak pleaded guilty on August 16, 2019, and is awaiting sentencing.

The SEC's complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleges that Strochak violated the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act") and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, as well as the broker-dealer registration provisions of Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act. Strochak agreed to a judgment that permanently enjoins him from violating the charged provisions of the federal securities laws, and orders him to pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest totaling $250,056, to be offset by any restitution order entered against him in the parallel criminal case. The settlement is subject to court approval.

The SEC's investigation was led by Eric E. Morales and Fernando Torres in the Miami Regional Office and supervised by Jason R. Berkowitz and Glenn S. Gordon. The SEC's litigation is being led by Alejandro O. Soto and Mr. Morales, under the supervision of Andrew O. Schiff. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Florida's Office of Financial Regulation.