Chief Executive Officer and Stock Promoter Indicted for Multi-Million Dollar Stock Manipulation Scheme
Defendants Allegedly Induced Elderly Investors to Purchase Artificially Inflated Stock of a Publicly Traded Company
Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, an indictment was unsealed charging Benjamin Conde, Chief Executive Officer of Essex Global Investments and President of Facultas Capital Management, and Lawrence Isen, the owner of Marketbyte, LLC, a purported stock promotion firm, with conducting a “pump and dump” scheme to defraud investors in Renewable Energy and Power, Inc. (RBNW). The charges include conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and substantive securities fraud. The defendants were arrested this morning and Conde will be arraigned this afternoon before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert at the United States Courthouse in Central Islip. Isen’s appearance for removal to the Eastern District of New York is scheduled for this afternoon at the federal courthouse in San Diego, California.
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, Conde and Isen joined forces with a ‘boiler room’ crew to defraud investors, many of them elderly, and enrich themselves at the expense of their victims,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “The Department of Justice has made it a priority to hold accountable those who use our financial markets as a venue to lie, cheat and steal.” Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission for its significant cooperation and assistance in the investigation.
As alleged in the indictment, between March 2017 and July 2017, Conde and Isen hired a purported financial services business in Melville, New York, known by a number of names including My Street Research, that operated as a high pressure “boiler room.” The boiler room engaged in a pump and dump scheme to defraud investors in RBNW. As part of the scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators artificially controlled the price and volume of traded shares and made misrepresentations to victim investors, many of whom were senior citizens, relating to the advisability of purchasing RBNW stock and its profitability. The scheme generated over $3.1 million in trading profits for the defendants and their co-conspirators and losses for the victim investors when the stock price plummeted.
The defendants attempted to conceal the scheme by laundering approximately $2.8 million in fraudulently obtained proceeds.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Conde and Isen each face up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorney Erin E. Argo is in charge of the prosecution.
Fairfield, New Jersey
San Diego, California
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-432 (JS)