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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Connecticut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Suffield Man Involved in Stock "Pump and Dump" Scheme is Sentenced

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that CHRISTIAN MEISSENN, also known as “Christian Nigohossian,” 46, of Suffield, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to three months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in a securities fraud scheme.

The sentence was based, in part, on Meissenn’s serious health condition.  Judge Meyer ordered Meissenn to serve his three-year term of supervised release in home confinement.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2009 and July 2016, Meissenn and others conspired to defraud investors through a stock “pump and dump” scheme.  Meissenn 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, most of which were essentially shell companies controlled by Meissenn’s associates, 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”); Electric Motors Corporation (stock symbol “EMCO”); Hermes Jets, Inc. (stock symbol “HRMJ”), which later became Continental Beverage Brands Corporation (stock symbol “CBBB”); and Fox Petroleum, Inc. (stock symbol “FXPT”).  The conspirators then sold positions in those securities that were held by conspirators and their designees at the falsely inflated prices, thereby enriching the members of the conspiracy.

As part of the scheme, attorneys signed false and misleading opinion letters that were designed to provide assurances to securities transfer agents and prospective investors.  The opinion letters falsely certified that the attorneys had adequately reviewed corporate records and filings for the issuing companies and were satisfied with the adequacy of the companies’ public disclosures.

After selling their own shares at a profit, the conspirators allowed the price of the securities to fall, leaving investors with worthless and unsalable stock.  As a result, more than 12,000 victim investors collectively lost nearly $19 million.

Between 2011 and 2015, Meissenn earned approximately $4.4 million through this scheme.  He failed to report this income to the Internal Revenue Service, resulting in a tax loss to the government of $1,527,834.

The investigation revealed that Meissenn also failed to file tax returns in 2009 and 2010.  In connection with a Connecticut Department of Banking investigation in 2013, Meissenn signed and filed a notarized affidavit falsely stating that he had a negative net worth and had not filed taxes due to lack of income.

On November 8, 2016, Meissenn pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and one count of tax evasion.

Judge Meyer ordered Meissenn to pay restitution of $5,301,694 to victims, and $1,527,834 to the IRS.

The government has received victim impact statements from more than 800 victims of this scheme.

Meissenn, who is released on bond, was ordered to report to prison on January 10, 2019.

Six other individuals pleaded guilty to various offenses stemming from this scheme. 

On September 27, 2017, Damian Delgado, also known as “Michael Neumann,” of Orlando, Florida, was sentenced to 84 months of imprisonment.  On May 7, 2018, Brian Ferraioli, of Sayville, N.Y., and Thomas Heaphy, Jr., of East Moriches, N.Y., were each sentenced to 72 months of imprisonment for their roles in this scheme and an unrelated investment fraud scheme.  On July 13, 2018, William Lieberman of Boca Raton, Florida, was sentenced to 84 months of imprisonment.

Two attorneys involved in the scheme, Corey Brinson, of Hartford, and Diane Dalmy, of Denver, were each sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment on April 13, 2017, and May 15, 2018.  However, Dalmy faces a resentencing proceeding on December 7, 2018, because she misled the court about her financial assets, and hid approximately $47,000 in cash to avoid paying restitution to victims.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, with assistance from the Connecticut Department of Banking, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Hartford and Stamford Police Departments.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Avi M. Perry.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Tax
Component(s): 
Updated November 29, 2018