Former Securities Attorney Sentenced for $1.3 Million Penny-Stock Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia
Offill Previously Convicted of Federal Fraud and Permanently Barred from Penny-Stock Transactions
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former securities attorney was sentenced today to 72 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to defraud over 1,000 investors in a penny-stock scheme.
“This case is unique because of the defendant’s greed and disregard for the rule of law, even after serving a federal prison sentence for fraud,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “While still on supervised release from his last offense, Mr. Offill and his co-conspirators used their stock market expertise to swindle unsuspecting average investors in order to enrich themselves. I’m grateful to our attorneys and investigative agents who identified and put an end to this flagrantly exploitative scheme.”
“This serial offender defrauded over 1,000 investors, including many who entrusted him with their retirement funds and life savings,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s sentence and restitution demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting victims from financial predators, securing the integrity of our public markets, and obtaining restitution for victims of fraud.”
“Phillip Offill engaged in a fraudulent criminal scheme to inflate stock prices through false information, causing victims to lose over $1.3 million of their hard-earned money,” said David Sundberg, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office. “Pump-and-dump schemes, such as this one, deteriorate the integrity of the market. The FBI will work to hold accountable those who choose to break the law and swindle unsuspecting victims.”
According to court documents, from at least November 2016 through October 2018, Phillip W. Offill, Jr., 64, of Dallas, Texas; Justin Wallace Herman, 52, of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania; and others conspired to misappropriate millions of shares of a publicly traded company, MCPI, that held mining claims in Arizona and Idaho. The defendants then fraudulently marketed the shares for sale through third parties, including call centers, who made materially false statements to potential investors, while manipulating the market so that the stock falsely appeared to be trading more actively than it actually was. Offill coordinated the co-conspirators, created and submitted fraudulent documents to gatekeepers such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and knowingly caused two materially false press releases to be issued to pump up demand for MCPI stock. As a result of the scheme, victim investors lost approximately $1.3 million.
Offill was previously employed as an attorney for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for over 14 years. After leaving the SEC, in 2010, he was convicted in the Eastern District of Virginia for participating in multimillion-dollar pump-and-dump stock manipulation schemes. In April 2010, Offill was sentenced to eight years in prison and three years of supervised release. While on supervised release for his 2010 conviction, Offill committed the current offense involving MCPI stock.
As part of a prior civil case brought by the SEC, in 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan entered a final judgment against Offill that permanently barred him from participating in an offering of penny stock. As part of another SEC case, in 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas entered a final judgment against Offill that permanently barred him from participating in an offering of penny stock. Notwithstanding these bans, Offill committed the current offense.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Emily Odom, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly R. Pedersen of the Eastern District of Virginia, and Trial Attorneys Andrew Tyler and Amanda Fretto Lingwood of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section at the Justice Department, are prosecuting the case. Former Trial Attorney Blake C. Goebel provided significant contributions to this prosecution.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:22-cr-152.
Updated July 13, 2023
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud