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Press Release

Several sentenced in $50M pump-and-dump scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON – All seven defendants charged in relation to a more than $50 million securities fraud “pump-and-dump” scheme have received their final sentences, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Carolyn Price Austin, 67, Houston, pleaded guilty as did Andrew Ian Farmer, 43, Thomas Galen Massey, 51, Eddie Douglas Austin Jr., 71, and Charles Earl Grob, 41, all also of Houston; John David Brotherton, 62, League City; and Scott Russell Sieck, 62, Winter Park, Florida.

Today, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore sentenced her to 12 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by one year of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, the court noted the large sum of money lost by the victims in the case and that there were “some people that lost all their money.”

Previously, Judge Gilmore ordered Farmer to serve a sentence of 72 months. Brotherton, Grob and Massey were ordered to serve 60 months, 12 months and three years of probation, respectively, while Eddie Austin and Sieck both were ordered to serve 36-month terms of imprisonment.

All seven must also pay restitution the victims of their scheme. Farmer and Sieck were each ordered to pay $8 million, while Eddie Austin must pay $6.6 million. The court ordered Grob and Massey to pay $4.5 and $1 million, respectively while Brotherton must pay $6.2 million. The court held open the amount of restitution Carolyn Austin will be required to pay to enable the parties to submit an agreed upon amount.

Farmer, Eddie Austin, Sieck, Brotherton and Grob were further ordered to forfeit additional funds to the United States in amounts ranging from $242,907 to $6 million.

The defendants admitted to their involvement in a conspiracy to commit fraud in microcap securities. During the course of the conspiracy, they obtained control of the stock of numerous companies, then “pumped up” the price of the stock through false and misleading press releases and fraudulent trading techniques. They then “dumped” their shares of stock onto the market for a significant profit.

Farmer and Brotherton are in custody serving their sentence at a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility. Eddie Austin, Carolyn Austin and Sieck were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender at a later date. Grob has completed his sentence and is currently on supervised release.

The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin R. Martin and Michael Chu are prosecuting the case.

Updated December 13, 2021

Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud