Hartford Attorney Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Charges Stemming from Stock "Pump and Dump" Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that COREY BRINSON, 36, of Hartford, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to a money laundering charge stemming from his involvement in a securities fraud scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately October 2010 and July 2016, BRINSON, a licensed attorney, served as the nominal “securities counsel” for several companies whose securities were marketed and sold to the investing public by Christian Meissenn and Meissenn’s business associates in a stock “pump and dump” scheme. Meissenn and his associates induced investors to purchase securities by making false and misleading representations about the securities and the issuing companies, thereby causing the price of those securities to become falsely inflated. After selling their own shares at a profit, the scheme’s participants allowed the price of the securities to fall, leaving investors with worthless and unsalable stock. As a result, victim investors lost millions of dollars.
As part of the scheme, BRINSON, who did not have any experience with securities and securities markets, signed, or permitted others to affix his signature to, false and misleading attorney opinion letters that were designed to provide assurances to securities transfer agents and prospective investors. Among other things, the opinion letters falsely certified that BRINSON, as an attorney, had adequately reviewed corporate records and filings and was satisfied with the adequacy of the companies’ public disclosures. The opinion letters were then provided to securities transfer agents and prospective investors. BRINSON also received deposits of millions of dollars in proceeds of securities transactions into his Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (“IOLTA”). Rather than use the proceeds to purchase securities and fund operations at the underlying companies, Meissenn and others directed BRINSON to distribute nearly all the money to what proved to be relatives, associates and shell companies associated with Meissenn and his associates.
BRINSON knew that approximately $3 million that passed through his IOLTA were the proceeds of this illegal securities scheme. In exchange for providing his services, BRINSON received approximately five percent of the proceeds that passed through his IOLTA. In addition, BRINSON also received payment for preparing the false opinion letters. As a result of these activities, BRINSON’s personal gain was a total of approximately $200,000.
BRINSON pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. Judge Meyer scheduled sentencing for April 14, 2017.
BRINSON surrendered his law license in November 2016.
On November 8, 2016, Meissenn pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of tax evasion. He awaits sentencing.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the Connecticut Department of Banking and the Hartford and Stamford Police Departments. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Avi M. Perry and Peter S. Jongbloed.