Two Former Directors of Queénch, Inc. Sentenced for Securities Fraud and Obstruction of Justice
Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced that LENNOX PARRIS, a former director of Queénch, Inc., a distributor of bottled water products formerly headquartered in Jericho, New York, and his brother LESTER PARRIS, a former director and Queénch consultant, were each sentenced to five years in prison. The defendants were also ordered to forfeit approximately 200 acres of real property in Canada and $2,297,525 in cash. The sentencing proceeding was held this morning before United States District Judge Frederic Block at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
The defendants were convicted after trial in March 2007 for repeatedly misrepresenting Queénch’s prospects and performance in false press releases, emails, and faxes sent to potential investors. The fraud scheme generated approximately $4.9 million in stock purchases, more than half of which was funneled to the defendants through a bank account controlled by LESTER PARRIS. Queénch securities are publicly traded under the symbol “QENC” on the “Pink Sheets,” a quotation service for over-the-counter stocks.
In their press releases, the defendants falsely claimed that Queénch had secured distribution contracts with prominent companies, including Time Warner, 7-Eleven, and the U.S. military, and that Queénch’s financial statements had been audited. The defendants also sent false information about Queénch in unsolicited faxes and email messages to millions of potential investors. While the false information was being circulated, the defendants caused Queénch to issue 28.6 million unregistered shares of stock to two stock promotion companies. As a result of the false and fraudulent representations, Queénch’s share price and trading volume increased dramatically, and, as the stock price soared, the stock promotion companies sold millions of Queénch shares at a substantial profit. In March 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) halted trading in Queénch stock due to suspicions that certain publicly available information about the company was inaccurate. The SEC later filed a civil suit against the defendants, the stock promotion companies, and others, for violations of the federal securities laws.
In the criminal case, the jury also found the defendants guilty of conspiring and attempting to tamper with a witness in a federal grand jury investigation and in the separate civil investigation conducted by the SEC.
“These defendants deceived the investing public in order to line their own pockets,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “Thanks to the efforts of law enforcement and the SEC, they now must pay the price for their crimes.” Mr. Campbell expressed his grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its assistance in the criminal case, and to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, which is pursuing separate civil proceedings against the defendants and others.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Taryn A. Merkl, Jonathan E. Green, and Laura D. Mantell.
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