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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Chief Executive Officer and Associates Indicted for Orchestrating Multi-Million Dollar Stock Manipulation Scheme Involving a Publicly Traded Company

Defendants Made Millions by Artificially Inflating the Company’s Stock and Inducing Elderly Victims to Invest

An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Central Islip charging  Christian Romandetti, Sr., the Chief Executive Officer of First Choice Healthcare Solutions, Inc (FCHS), a publicly traded company based in Melbourne, Florida, and his associates Frank Sarro, Jeffrey Miller and Mark Burnett, with conducting a pump and dump scheme in coordination with Elite Stock Research (ESR), a boiler room, to defraud investors in FCHS that operated in Plainview, New York.  The charges include conspiracies to commit securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, and substantive securities fraud. 

Miller and Burnett will be arraigned this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Anne Y. Shields, at the federal courthouse in Central Islip.  Romandetti’s and Sarro’s initial appearance for removal proceedings to the Eastern District of New York is scheduled for this afternoon at the federal courthouse in Orlando, Florida.      

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the charges.

“As alleged, the defendants conducted a classic pump and dump scheme designed to defraud the investing public, many of whom were senior citizens, by pressuring them to purchase shares of the manipulated stock,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “Today’s arrests show our continuing commitment to protect investors and hold accountable those who abuse our financial markets in order to line their own pockets.”  Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission for their significant cooperation and assistance in the investigation.

As alleged in the indictment, between May 2013 and June 2016, the defendants, together with others, engaged in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors in FCHS, many of whom were elderly, by artificially controlling the price and volume of traded shares in the FCHS by artificially generating price movements and trading volume in the shares, and by including material misrepresentations and omissions in their communications with victim investors about FCHS stock.  The defendants promoted the stocks primarily through cold-call campaigns and circulation of a newsletter.  The defendants fraudulently concealed their control of FCHS shares by holding them in brokerage accounts in the names of other individuals or entities.  The defendants then laundered over $3 million in proceeds of the foregoing stock manipulation scheme.

The charges announced today are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorney Charles N. Rose is in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendants:

CHRISTIAN ROMANDETTI, SR.
Age:  58
Indialantic, Florida

FRANK SARRO
Age:  63
Palm Bay, Florida

JEFFREY MILLER
Age:  63
Bellmore, New York

MARK BURNETT
Age:  59
Roslyn, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-614 (SJF)

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Contact: 
John Marzulli Tyler Daniels United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323
Updated November 15, 2018