New Charges Filed Against Raleigh Investment Adviser Including Conspiracy to Falsify SEC Records & Aggravated Identity Theft
RALEIGH – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that a federal grand jury has returned a Superseding Indictment charging STEPHEN CONDON PETERS, 45, of Raleigh, North Carolina, with four additional charges.
The original Indictment, issued in December of 2017, included one count of Investment Advisor Fraud; one count of Fraud in the Sale of Unregistered Securities; nine counts of Wire Fraud; 4 counts of Engaging in Monetary Transactions in Criminally Derived Property; and one count of Corruptly Endeavoring to Influence a Federal Agency.
The Superseding Indictment includes four additional charges, consisting of Aggravated Identity Theft; Conspiracy to Make False Statements and Documents; Making and Using False Statements and Documents; and Falsifying and Concealing Documents During an SEC Examination. The Superseding Indictment also includes additional assets to be forfeited upon conviction.
The Superseding Indictment alleges that beginning in 2009, and continuing into 2017, PETERS orchestrated the sale of VisionQuest Capital LLC promissory notes (the "Capital LLC Notes"), primarily to Visionquest Wealth Management LLC clients. In exchange for an investment of funds, the Capital LLC Notes purported to promise investors an 8% or 9% annual return on principal over a five year term. In connection with the sale of the Capital LLC Notes, PETERS represented and caused to be represented to investors that the Capital LLC Notes were a low risk investment, and that the note proceeds would be invested into revenue generating or income-producing businesses. In fact, PETERS stole large portions of the investor proceeds and carried out a "Ponzi" scheme on investors.
In terms of new charges, the Superseding Indictment contains additional allegations that PETERS, both directly and through his staff at Visionquest Wealth Management, LLC, forged, fabricated, and concealed documents and records in an effort to thwart an examination by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in late 2016. It is alleged that PETERS forged and backdated a letter to his former compliance officer purporting to place the burden of disclosing PETERS’S conflicts of interest upon the compliance officer. PETERS further directed the fabrication of numerous other records given to the SEC examiners, including client balance sheets, wealth management contracts, outside business activity disclosures, and internal compliance memoranda.
At present, no date has been scheduled for PETERS to appear in court concerning the new charges. PETERS is presently set to be arraigned in December 2018 by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever, III.
In addition to the penalties on previously charged offenses, PETERS now faces the following additional penalties: For Aggravated Identity Theft, not less or more than 2 years imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence imposed; for Falsifying and Concealing Documents During an SEC Examination, not more than 20 years imprisonment; for Conspiracy to Make False Statements and Documents, not more than 5 years imprisonment; for Making False Statements and Documents, not more than 5 years imprisonment. PETERS also faces up to $1 Million in additional fines, as well as further forfeiture of property.
An indictment is an allegation of a crime. The defendant is presumed under the law to be innocent until proven guilty.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney William M. Gilmore represents the United States.