Greenwood Man Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that Melvin Leonard Wimmer, Jr., age 53, of Greenwood, South Carolina has entered a guilty plea in federal court in Greenville, to Securities Fraud, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1348. Senior United States District Judge Henry M. Herlong, Jr., of Greenville, accepted the guilty plea and will sentence Wimmer at a later date after he has reviewed the presentence report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing established that in 2007, Wimmer started an investment firm in Greenwood called Cornerstone Capital. From 2010-2017, approximately twenty-five (25) individuals invested $3.6 million with Wimmer. Wimmer pooled the money into one bank account, and he traded primarily securities and stock futures and options. Wimmer invested in high-risk securities and futures contracts. Of the $3.6 million invested, Wimmer lost approximately $3 million.
Wimmer committed fraud by issuing fraudulent account statements to his investors. Soon after he started trading options and futures, Wimmer lost money, and he continued to lose money throughout the scheme. Instead of reporting the losses, Wimmer emailed his investors monthly account statements that falsely listed gains of 8-10 percent on an annualized basis. Wimmer manufactured and distributed false account statements from the outset, and he continued until the scheme collapsed. Wimmer also falsely represented the expected gains from trading, including the past performance of his trades, and he failed to inform the investors of the high risk of trading futures and options.
Ms. Drake stated that the maximum penalty for Securities Fraud is imprisonment for 25 years and/or a fine of $250,000.
The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Assistant United States Attorney Rhett DeHart of the Charleston office is prosecuting the case.