Forcefield Energy Investor Relations Professional Sentenced To 36 Months In Prison For Role In A $131 Million Market Manipulation Scheme
Jared Mitchell, an investor relations professional, was sentenced earlier today to 36 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, after having pleaded guilty to securities fraud for his role in the fraudulent market manipulation of ForceField Energy Inc. (ForceField), a publicly traded company previously listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “FNRG.”
The sentencing was announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting 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.
According to court filings and facts presented at the sentencing hearing, between 2009 and 2015, Mitchell and others engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in ForceField, a purported worldwide distributor and provider of LED lighting products and solutions, by artificially controlling the price and volume of traded shares of ForceField. Mitchell and others committed this crime by, among other means: (1) secretly using nominees to purchase and sell ForceField stock without disclosing this information to investors and potential investors; (2) orchestrating the trading of ForceField stock to create the misleading appearance of genuine trading volume and interest in the stock; and (3) concealing secret payments to stock promoters and broker dealers who promoted and sold ForceField stock to investors and potential investors while falsely claiming to be independent of the company. The fraudulent scheme caused a loss of approximately $131 million to the investing public.
Between October 2014 and April 2015, a ForceField executive paid secret commissions, or kickbacks, to Mitchell. Mitchell then paid a portion of the kickbacks to registered brokers in exchange for the registered brokers’ purchasing ForceField stock in their clients’ brokerage accounts. Mitchell kept the remaining portion of the kickbacks for himself. The registered brokers did not disclose to their clients the kickbacks they were receiving for purchasing ForceField stock. Mitchell and his co-conspirators took pains to conceal their participation in the fraudulent scheme by using prepaid, disposable cellular telephones and encrypted, content-expiring messaging applications to communicate with each other, and by paying kickbacks in cash during in-person meetings.
Today’s proceeding, which took place before United States District Court Judge Brian M. Cogan, is the fourth sentencing to take place in connection with the ForceField securities fraud. Four other defendants who pleaded guilty in this matter, and one defendant convicted after trial, remain to be sentenced.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark E. Bini and Lauren H. Elbert are in charge of the prosecution.
Residence: Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-234 (BMC)