Man Pleads Guilty In $35 Million Penny Stock Fraud Scheme
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – One of the members of a penny stock fraud conspiracy that defrauded investors of over $35 million, has pleaded guilty to felony securities fraud charges, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada.
Jeffrey Turino, 60, pleaded guilty on Monday, Aug. 22, to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 28, at 11 a.m. by U.S. District Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey. Turino, who is currently in custody, has requested to be released pending sentencing, and a hearing on the matter is scheduled for this afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
According to the plea agreement, beginning in about 1997 and continuing until about March 2010, Turino conspired with others to fraudulently issue, offer and sell stock issued by corporate shells which they controlled, including World Wide Cannery and Distribution, Global Diamond Exchange, Inc., Equitable Mining Corporation, ODMA Oil and Gas, Inc. and Grand Entertainment and Music, Inc. Turino and the other conspirators engaged in deceptive practices and issued misleading press releases to promote these companies and to give the impression that they were actively engaged in the importation and sale of products, when in truth, the companies were hollow shells that did not engage in regular or substantial business activities, did not produce any goods, services, or profits, and did not commercially import products as promoted in their news releases. Turino and other members of the conspiracy fraudulently induced investors to purchase billions of unregistered shares of stock in the companies, which the conspirators had deceptively issued without requisite restrictions and disclosures. Although these penny stocks typically traded for less than one cent per share, the billions of shares of stock that the conspirators offered and sold in the public market yielded proceeds of more than $35 million, which was divided and distributed among Turino and the other conspirators.
Ten co-conspirators were originally charged in the case. Four are scheduled for trial beginning Nov. 15. Two pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, one is a fugitive, and two more are deceased.