BOSTON – A California businessman pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston to engaging in a fraudulent scheme to obtain and profit from the sale of penny-stock shares that were later sold for millions of dollars during a sophisticated market manipulation scheme.
Kevin C. Dills, 67, of Carlsbad, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud. Sentencing will be scheduled for a later date before U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns. Dills was charged in March 2023 along with co-defendant Joseph A. Padilla, who previously pleaded guilty to securities fraud and other charges and has been sentenced.
Between October 2020 and July 2021, Dills engaged in a fraudulent scheme to obtain and profit from the sale of unrestricted free-trading shares in the company Oncology Pharma, Inc., a thinly traded company that traded on the over-the-counter securities market under the ticker symbol ONPH. Specifically, Dills fraudulently induced Oncology Pharma’s transfer agent to issue three million unrestricted free-trading ONPH shares to two entities under Dills’ control by, among other means, secretly controlling one of the entities through his girlfriend and not disclosing that control to Oncology Pharma’s transfer agent. Dills then sold the three million shares to two individuals who deposited the shares with the Cayman Islands broker Valor Capital, with which Padilla had a close, unofficial association. Padilla then engaged in manipulative trading in ONPH designed, at least in part, to artificially drive up the company’s stock price, after which Padilla began dumping the ONPH shares—which were under common control—to unsuspecting investors in Massachusetts and throughout the United States during a promotional campaign, generating tens of millions of dollars in illicit profits. Over $6 million from those illicit profits was then transferred to Dills via his two entities between March and June 2021.
The charge of securities fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $5 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy and Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement today. Assistant United States Attorneys James R. Drabick and Ian J. Stearns of the Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.