Atlanta businessmen sentenced to 10 years in prison for securities fraud schemes
ATLANTA - Marc E. Bercoon and William A. Goldstein have been sentenced to federal prison on charges that they manipulated the market for shares of MedCareers Group, Inc., a publicly traded company, and that they carried out a second investment fraud scheme using a new business corporation that they organized as the bait for investors.
“These defendants manipulated the stock of a publicly traded company by orchestrating two schemes, netting over $2.5 million from investors,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “At the same time they were rigging the stock market, the defendants fleeced dozens of investors in a separate fraud scheme. Today’s sentencing marks a fitting end to the defendants’ long history of cheating investors out of their hard-earned money.”
“It’s easy to dismiss financial fraud cases like this as harmless, but there is a real victimization and lives are changed because of it,” said Murang Pak, Acting Special Agent in Charge (A/SAC) of FBI Atlanta. “Hopefully the sentencing of these two criminals will give the many people who were defrauded some solace.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: From July 2009 through September 2011, Bercoon and Goldstein conspired with others to manipulate the market for shares of MedCareers Group, Inc., a publicly traded company quoted on the over-the-counter bulletin board under the ticker symbol “MCGI.”
The conspiracy culminated in two “pump and dump” schemes carried out in March and May 2010. To carry out these schemes, Bercoon and Goldstein arranged for MedCareers Group, Inc. to issue a series of misleading press releases and SEC filings, at the same time as co-conspirators sent out mass emails touting the stock. While the price of MCGI and the demand for the stock were both artificially high because of these efforts, the defendants orchestrated a sell-off of their stock, coordinating activity in multiple “nominee” accounts, which were titled in the names of other people and entities to hide the defendants’ involvement.
From May 2009 through June 2010, Bercoon and Goldstein also carried out a second investment fraud concerning a privately held company. Specifically, Bercoon and Goldstein organized a private corporation, Find.com Acquisition, Inc., and then solicited investments from dozens of individuals. Bercoon and Goldstein told investors, and induced brokers working for them to tell investors, that their funds would be used to develop an internet search engine named Find.com. Bercoon and Goldstein used the bulk of the over $1.5 million raised from investors for unrelated purposes, such as subsidizing their other business ventures and making payments to themselves and their family members. In fact, over $550,000 of the $1.5 million invested in Find.com Acquisition, Inc. was simply withdrawn from the bank in cash shortly after being invested.
As part of the scheme, investors were provided with written offering materials. In addition to stating that the investments would be used to develop the Find.com internet search engine business, the written materials stated that investors were being offered the opportunity to buy stock at a price of $1.00 per share, and that no more than 12.5% of investments would go toward commissions. Despite these representations, Bercoon and Goldstein sold stock to some investors at heavily discounted prices, without informing other investors, and paid commissions of 30% to 40% to brokers on some investments.
These charges flow from a securities fraud investigation conducted by the FBI, in which court-authorized wiretaps were used to intercept telephone conversations.
Marc E. Bercoon, 58, of Dunwoody, Georgia and William A. Goldstein, 54, of Alpharetta, Georgia were each sentenced to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release following their prison terms, and payment of restitution in the amount of $1,496,733. The Court also entered a forfeiture order as to each defendant in the amount of $1,953,974. On February 21, 2018, Bercoon and Goldstein were convicted by a jury on 12 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud.
In 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Bercoon and Goldstein in connection with a separate investment fraud scheme concerning LADP Acquisition, Inc. A judgment of over $3 million was entered against both men in that case. The Court applied a sentencing enhancement for violation of a prior judicial order, finding that the defendants violated a preliminary injunction in the LADP case.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Atlanta Regional office of the SEC, the Los Angeles Regional Office of the SEC, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the Criminal Prosecution Assistance Group of FINRA provided valuable contributions in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen H. McClain, Chief of the Complex Frauds Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alana R. Black and Kamal Ghali prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.