By CWNN Staffer
Nassau, Bahamas: A 41-year-old Bahamian is among five others who have been indicted for an alleged scheme to defraud investors in Oklahoma.
Dean Sheptycki was arrested by Bahamian authorities Tuesday and is awaiting extradition to the United States. A 24-count indictment released yesterday claims that Sheptycki along with G. David Gordon, 47, a Tulsa, Okla., attorney, Richard Clark, 61, also of Tulsa, Louisville, Ky., attorney James Reskin, 50, and Dallas-area resident Joshua Wayne Lankford, 35, defrauded investors through the manipulation of the publicly traded stocks of three companies.
The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Tulsa on Jan. 15, 2009, alleges the scheme reaped the defendants in excess of $41 million.
Two companies based in Tulsa at the time of the alleged scheme – Deep Rock Oil & Gas, Inc. and Global Beverage Solutions, Inc., formerly known as Pacific Peak Investments – were among those whose stock was allegedly manipulated. The third company, National Storm Management Group, Inc., is based in Glen Ellyn, Ill.
The indictment alleges that between April 2004 and December 2006, the defendants devised and engaged in a scheme to defraud investors known as a `pump and dump,` in which they manipulated three publicly traded penny stocks. A penny stock is a common stock that trades for less than $5 per share in the over the counter market, rather than on national exchanges.
According to the indictment, the defendants executed the scheme by obtaining a majority of the free-trading shares of stock of the company they intended to manipulate, using fraudulent and deceptive means to acquire the stock and/or remove the trading restrictions on the shares they obtained.
The defendants also allegedly hid and `parked` their shares with various nominees, such as friends, relatives, or other entities that they owned and controlled. Subsequently, they allegedly engaged in coordinated trading in order to create the appearance of an emerging market for these stocks, after which they conducted massive promotional campaigns in which unsolicited fax and e-mail `blasts` were sent to millions of recipients.
According to the indictment, these blasts touted the respective stocks without accurately disclosing who was paying for the promotions, omitted that the defendants intended to sell their shares, and induced unsuspecting legitimate investors to purchase stock in the companies. The defendants and their nominees allegedly took significant profits by selling large amounts of shares after they had artificially inflated the stock price. For each of the three manipulated stocks, the defendants’ alleged sell-off caused declines of the stock price and left legitimate investors holding stock of significantly reduced value.
The indictment charges all five defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering, nine counts of wire fraud, five counts of securities fraud, and six counts of money laundering in connection with the manipulation of three penny stocks.
Gordon is also charged with one count of making a false statement in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the scheme to defraud. Additionally, the indictment charges Gordon with one count of wire fraud in connection with a fourth penny stock, that of International Power Group Ltd., based in New Jersey, and one count of obstruction of justice of an investigation into the alleged wire fraud violation.
The indictment seeks the criminal forfeiture of $41.4 million from all five defendants in connection with the three penny stocks. Additionally, the indictment seeks criminal forfeiture of $2.74 million from Gordon in connection with the wire fraud involving the fourth penny stock.
The conspiracy and false statement charges each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each charge of wire fraud as well as the obstruction of justice count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum sentence for each securities fraud count is 20 years in prison and a $5,000,000 fine and the maximum sentence for each money laundering count is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In a related action, the SEC today filed a civil enforcement action against Gordon, Lankford and Sheptycki.