Stock Promoter Who Obstructed Justice in SEC Enforcement Action Sentenced to 17 ½ Year Prison Term
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., March 12, 2002-The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that Sidney Wade Sers was sentenced to 17 ½ years in federal prison for obstruction of justice, contempt of court and money laundering charges related to an SEC enforcement action. Sers was convicted of concealing $800,000 in Cayman Island bank accounts, in violation of court orders stemming from the SEC action.
In Dec.1997, the SEC charged Sers and Trinity Gas Corporation, a publicly traded company he controlled, with bilking hundreds of Trinity investors out of over $11 million in an illegal "pump and dump" scam-a scheme in which a company's share price is "pumped up" through false representations before the shares are "dumped" by the scam's promoters at illegally and artificially inflated prices. On Dec. 9, 1997, the U.S. District Court of Fort Worth, Texas, entered a temporary restraining order against Sers and his company and froze their assets. The following month the court continued the asset freeze and directed Sers to repatriate funds to the United States.
The day the Commission filed suit, Sers transferred $800,000 he obtained from sales of Trinity stock to the Cayman Islands and subsequently fled the country. From Jan. 1998 until his arrest, Sers was a fugitive hiding in Colombia. Colombian authorities detained Sers on Nov. 21, 2000 and deported him to Miami, Fla., where Sers was arrested by the F.B.I.
"This criminal sentence underscores the SEC's resolve to pursue criminal prosecutions against deliberate wrongdoers and those who interfere with the Commission's law enforcement activities," said Harold F. Degenhardt, District Administrator for the SEC's Fort Worth, Texas office.
In 1999, the U.S. District Court in Fort Worth entered a summary judgment in favor of the Commission and ordered Sers to disgorge $11,607,442, representing his profits from the unlawful scheme. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings of Lubbock, Texas, sentenced Sers to prison and ordered Sers to make restitution of the same amount.
The criminal case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Texas (Lubbock Division). An SEC attorney was appointed Special Assistant U.S. Attorney to assist in the criminal prosecution, and an SEC accountant testified at the sentencing hearing. Additional information can be found in Litigation Release No. 17409 (March 12, 2002); No. 16386 (December 10, 1999); No. 15627 (January 28, 1998); 15582 (December 8, 1997).