Six Defendants Charged in Expanded Securities Fraud Conspiracy
HOUSTON – Six individuals have been charged in a second superseding indictment for their role in a multi-million dollar securities fraud “pump-and-dump” conspiracy, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
The new indictment expands on the original charges which alleged a $6 million scheme involving one stock. The second superseding indictment alleges 12 stocks and more than $25 million.
A federal grand jury returned the original indictment Sept. 15, 2016, charging Andrew Ian Farmer, 38, and Thomas Galen Massey, 46, both of Houston, for their roles in a securities fraud scheme involving the stock of Chimera Energy Corp. A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment April 26, 2017, charging five additional individuals for their roles in the Chimera fraud - Eddie Douglas Austin Jr., 66, Carolyn Price Austin, 62, and Charles Earl Grob Jr., 37, all of Houston; John David Brotherton, 57, of League City; and Scott Russell Sieck, 58, of Winter Park, Florida.
Today, a grand jury returned a second superseding indictment against Farmer, Eddie and Carolyn Austin, Brotherton, Sieck and Grob for their role in a broader securities fraud conspiracy involving the stock of at least 12 different companies from 2011 to 2017, including Chimera.
In a typical “pump-and-dump” fraud scheme, the perpetrators engage in fraudulent trading practices in a company’s stock and publish false and misleading information about the company, all in order to fraudulently inflate the price of the stock. The perpetrators then sell the stock to unwitting investors at the inflated prices.
According to the charges in this case, the conspiracy involved a scheme to defraud investors in numerous companies by engaging in fraudulent trading practices, evading Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting requirements and publishing false and misleading information through press releases and advertisements about the companies. As a result of the scheme, the defendants allegedly defrauded investors that purchased shares of these companies out of more than $25 million.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud each carry a possible term of imprisonment of up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
Massey pleaded guilty to his role on April 18, 2017, and is set for sentencing June 4, 2018. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the SEC and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin R. Martin is prosecuting the case.