Litigation Release No. 23442 / January 7, 2016

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Edward Durante, a.k.a. Ted Wise, et al., Civil Action No. 15-cv-9874 (S.D.N.Y., filed December 18, 2015)

SEC Charges Co-Conspirators in Shell Company Fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced additional charges in a fraud case filed last month against a known securities fraudster allegedly using aliases to conduct a new scheme following his release from prison.

The SEC's amended complaint alleges that five co-conspirators enabled Edward Durante to defraud more than 50 inexperienced investors who purchased shares in a shell company he secretly controlled. Investors were falsely told that stock sale proceeds would be used to fund the company's operations, but the money typically went directly to Durante for personal use including payments to his cohorts.

According to the SEC's amended complaint:

  • Securities industry professionals Abida Khan and Larry Werbel advised their clients to purchase VGTel stock without disclosing that Durante paid them bribes to do so.
  • A stockbroker named Christopher Cervino engaged in matched trading of VGTel stock with Durante in order to help him artificially control the stock's market price.
  • Walter Reissman and Kenneth Wise were associates of Durante who aided and abetted his fraudulent sales.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced criminal charges.

The SEC's investigation has been conducted by Gerald Gross, James Hanson, Elizabeth Baier and Edward Janowsky in the SEC's New York office with assistance from Steven Vitulano and Terrence Bohan. The litigation will be led by Paul Gizzi and Mr. Hanson, and the case is being supervised by Sanjay Wadhwa. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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SEC Complaint