WASHINGTON – A securities attorney pleaded guilty today to defrauding investors in stock manipulation schemes involving 19 different publicly traded companies, Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin of the Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia announced today.
David B. Stocker, 49, of Phoenix pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., for his participation in a stock manipulation conspiracy known as a "pump-and-dump" scheme. Stocker is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 6, 2009, by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. The maximum penalties for the conspiracy charge are five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Stocker pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud involving 19 publicly traded companies including: eDollars Inc; Emerging Holdings Inc.; MassClick Inc.; China Score Inc.; American Television and Film Company Inc.; Auction Mills Inc.; Custom-Designed Compressor Systems Inc.; Ecogate Inc.; Media International Concepts Inc.; Vanquish Productions Inc.; AVL Global Inc.; Motion DNA Corp.; PokerBook Gaming Corp.; TKO Holding Ltd; Body Scan Inc.; Integrity Messenger Corp.; Beverly Hills Film Studios; IFINIX Inc.; and V3 Global Inc.
In related actions, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has enforcement actions against Stocker pending in federal district courts in Arizona, Michigan and Texas.
According to the plea agreement and criminal information, the stock manipulation scheme employed by Stocker and his co-conspirators followed a common pattern. Stocker admitted that he acted as securities counsel for companies, and he and others fraudulently caused the companies to issue millions of "free-trading" shares to co-conspirators in transactions that had not been registered with the SEC. As Stocker acknowledged in his plea, after the unregistered and free-trading shares had been issued, co-conspirators began to manipulate, or "pump," the trading value of the companies’ stock through a number of deceptive and manipulative means to entice members of the investing public to invest in the stock. For example, according to court documents, members of the conspiracy engaged in coordinated trades to manipulate the price of the stock.
Stocker also admitted that co-conspirators falsely manipulated the price and volume of some of the companies’ stock by making materially false and misleading statements in press releases and in spam emails distributed by co-conspirator Justin Medlin and other spammers to tens of millions of email addresses throughout the United States in an effort to create artificial demand for the companies’ stock. After fraudulently "pumping" the market price and demand for the companies’ stock, co-conspirators "dumped" millions of shares by selling them for large profits to the general investing public in the over-the-counter market through listings on Pink Sheets, an inter-dealer electronic quotation and trading system. These shares were purchased by unsuspecting investors, including investors in the Eastern District of Virginia, and were often rendered virtually worthless.
Eight other defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced in federal court in Alexandria, Va., for their roles in related stock manipulation schemes. Michael R. Saquella was sentenced to 10 years in prison; Justin Medlin was sentenced to six years in prison; Steven P. Luscko and Gregory A. Neu were each sentenced to five years in prison; Lawrence Kaplan was sentenced to three years in prison; Brian G. Brunette was sentenced to a one year in prison; Anthony Tarantola was sentenced to six months in prison; and Henry "Hank" Zemla was sentenced to three months in prison.
The case, which was referred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the Virginia Securities Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Stokes and Ed Power of Eastern District of Virginia and Deputy Chief Steve Linick of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The Department of Justice acknowledges the substantial assistance of FINRA and the SEC in its investigation. It would also like to thank the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Division of Securities and Retail Franchising, for its assistance.