SEC Charges Four Individuals in a Fraudulent Manipulation and Kickback Scheme

Litigation Release No. 24935 / September 30, 2020

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Joel Stohlman, et al., No. 20-civ-04803 (E.D. Pa. filed September 30, 2020)

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against two stock promoters, Joel Stohlman and Ricardo Richardson, along with an attorney, Gary Wolff, and an accountant, Edward Heil, for their roles in a scheme designed to manipulate the volume and price of microcap stocks and illegally generate stock sales.

According to the SEC's complaint, from at least November 2014 through February 2016, the defendants sought to manipulate the volume and price of the common stock of three microcap issuers, AI Document Services, Inc. (AIDC), Creative Edge Nutrition, Inc. (FITX), and Interactive Health Network (IGRW). The complaint alleges that the defendants entered into an agreement to pay kickbacks to a stock promoter who they believed was aligned with a network of corrupt registered representatives willing to purchase large volumes of the companies' stock through pre-arranged matched orders in order to create an illusion of genuine investor demand. According to the complaint, the stock promoter was actually an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The complaint further alleges the defendants shared nonpublic corporate press releases with the undercover FBI agent to coordinate the release of news with the illegal matched orders. The SEC previously suspended trading in the securities of the three companies.

The complaint alleges that the defendants violated the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a)(1) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5(a) and (c) thereunder and the market manipulation provision of Section 9(a)(1) of the Exchange Act. The complaint seeks permanent injunctive relief, civil monetary penalties, and penny stock bars against each defendant.

The SEC's investigation was conducted by Burk Burnett and Scott A. Thompson and supervised by Kelly L. Gibson of the Philadelphia Regional Office. The litigation will be led by Christopher R. Kelly and supervised by Jennifer Chun Barry. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the FBI.