SEC Charges Central Florida Resident for Fraud Targeting Retail Investors
Litigation Release No. 24800 / April 21, 2020
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Steven L. Brickner, o. 8:20-cv-00921 (M.D. Fla. filed April 21, 2020)
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Lithia, Florida resident Steven L. Brickner, for allegedly defrauding more than 60 retail investors out of approximately $5.5 million through purported investments in marijuana-related companies Brickner controlled.
The SEC alleges that, from 2015 to 2019, Brickner falsely represented to investors that he would use their money to purchase a Colorado-licensed marijuana dispensary network and conduct an IPO or merge with an over-the-counter public company, generating significant profits for investors. However, according to the SEC's complaint, Brickner misappropriated approximately $3 million of investor money to fund his lavish lifestyle and for personal expenses, including $1.2 million to purchase classic and luxury cars, and $335,000 in expenses at an adult entertainment club. The SEC also alleges that Brickner misrepresented to investors his experience as a successful entrepreneur while failing to disclose he had filed for bankruptcy in 2016, and made baseless claims to investors about a purportedly "imminent" merger.
The SEC's complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleges that Brickner 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 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. Without admitting or denying the allegations of the SEC's complaint, Brickner agreed to a judgment that permanently enjoins him from violating the charged provisions of the federal securities laws, and orders disgorgement with prejudgment interest and penalties in amounts to be determined by the court. The settlement is subject to court approval.
The SEC's investigation was led by Paul Hopker of the Microcap Fraud Task Force and Timothy J. Galdencio in the Miami Regional Office and supervised by Jason R. Berkowitz and Glenn S. Gordon. The SEC's litigation is being led by Robert K. Levenson and Mr. Hopker, under the supervision of Andrew O. Schiff. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).