New York Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy and Tax Offenses Stemming from Stock "Pump and Dump" Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that BRIAN FERRAIOLI, 40, of Sayville, N.Y., waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today in New Haven federal court to conspiracy and tax offenses stemming from his role in a securities fraud scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2009 and July 2016, FERRAIOLI conspired with others, including Christian Meissenn, William Lieberman, Damian Delgado and Thomas Heaphy, to defraud investors through a stock “pump and dump” scheme. FERRAIOLI and his co-conspirators induced investors to purchase securities by making false and misleading representations in calls, emails and press releases concerning the securities and the issuing companies, thereby causing the price of those securities to become falsely inflated. The issuing companies, which were essentially shell companies with virtually no legitimate business activities, included Terra Energy Resources Ltd. (stock symbol “TRRE”); Mammoth Energy Group, Inc. (stock symbol “MMTE”), a company that later became Strategic Asset Leasing Inc. (stock symbol “LEAS”); Trilliant Exploration Corporation (stock symbol “TTXP”); Hermes Jets, Inc. (stock symbol “HRMJ”), which later became Continental Beverage Brands Corporation (stock symbol “CBBB”); Dolat Ventures, Inc. (stock symbol “DOLV”), and Fox Petroleum, Inc. (stock symbol “FXPT”).
FERRAIOLI’s numerous misrepresentations induced investors to purchase securities, thus causing the share price of the securities to become artificially inflated. Certain of FERRAIOLI’s co-conspirators then sold their own preexisting positions in the securities at a profit. They then allowed he price of the securities to fall, leaving investors with worthless and unsalable stock. As a result, victim investors lost approximately $19.5 million.
FERRAIOLI received approximately 25 percent of all money that he induced individuals to invest. His personal gain from the scheme totaled approximately $1.25 million. FERRAIOLI disguised the income by having the funds flow through the trust accounts of various attorneys, including Corey Brinson in Connecticut, into bank accounts in the name of various shell entities under FERRAIOLI’s control. FERRAIOLI’s failure to pay taxes on approximately $1.1 million in income from this scheme, as well as unrelated income, during the 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016 tax years resulted in a loss of $305,733 to the Internal Revenue Service.
FERRAIOLI pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and one count of tax evasion, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer on November 6, 2017.
At sentencing, FERRAIOLI will be ordered to pay restitution to his victims, as well as back taxes, interest and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service.
On November 8, 2016, Meissenn, also known as “Christian Nigohossian,” of Suffield, Conn., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of tax evasion. He awaits sentencing.
On January 20, 2017, Brinson, of Hartford, pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity. On April 13, 2017, he was sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment.
Lieberman, Delgado and Heaphy each previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of tax evasion. They await 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. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Avi M. Perry and Peter S. Jongbloed.
Citizens with information that may be helpful to this ongoing investigation, or who believe they may have been victimized by this scheme, are encouraged to contact the FBI at (203) 777-6311.