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Press Release

Gates Mills man charged for his role in penny-stock fraud that cost investors $27 million

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

A Gates Mills man was charged today for his role in a penny-stock fraud from which he illegally received more than $7 million, said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office.

Jason M. Cope, 42, was charged in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, one count of securities law violations and four counts of wire fraud.

“Although the charges allege a sophisticated ‘penny stock’ scheme, there was nothing small-scale about this,” Dettelbach said. “The defendants in this case, through trickery and manipulation, made millions and millions of dollars on the backs of innocent investors.”

Cope served as president of several companies, including Worldbridge Partners, Inc. and Structured Management, Inc. He was a former broker but was not a registered securities broker and since 2003 was barred from having any association with any members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, according to the information.

Zirk de Maison controlled several companies. He used several people, including Cope, to identify and solicit investors to purchase shares in his various companies. de Maison, Cope and others used promoters in so-called “boiler rooms” to cold call and solicit potential investors. These calls usually happened in conjunction with favorable press releases or other information de Maison caused to be released, according to the information.

Cope, de Maison and others worked on several occasions between 2009 and 2014 to fraudulently manipulate to price of the companies de Maison controlled. Cope received more than $7.6 million in commissions from de Maison from participating in the conspiracy, according to the information.

Overall, investors lost more than $27 million through the fraudulent manipulation of the stock prices. de Maison, of California, and others have previously been charged for their roles in the conspiracy.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christos N. Georgalis and Adam Hollingsworth following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after a review of the federal sentencing guidelines and factors unique to the case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.

 A charge is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated September 10, 2015

Financial Fraud