Stock Manipulators Sentenced in Texas to Prison for $1 Million Securities Fraud Scheme www.privateofficer.com
Blake Williams, 30, of Dallas, and Derek Lopez, 46, of Torrance, California, were sentenced to 32 and 24 months in prison, respectively. U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade imposed the sentences today in Dallas federal court. In addition to the prison terms, Williams was ordered to forfeit $125,000; Lopez was ordered to forfeit $72,442; and the pair was sentenced to serve two years of supervised release. Each defendant previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of securities fraud.
Williams was an employee of TBeck Capital Inc., a purported investment banking and securities trading firm in Grapevine, Texas. Lopez was a securities broker-dealer who provided services to TBeck Capital. According to court documents, from June 2006 through December 2008, Williams, Lopez, and their co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to manipulate the price and volume of stocks traded in the over-the-counter market.
According to court documents, companies owned and controlled by a co-conspirator obtained control of large positions of free-trading stock in various publicly traded companies. Williams, Lopez, and others then coordinated trades with each other and with other alleged co-conspirators to create the false appearance of greater investor interest in the stock. Williams and Lopez admitted to trading stock in their own names as well as through TBeck Capital and other companies to keep the stock price artificially inflated. These actions allowed the defendants and their alleged co-conspirators to then sell that stock at an artificially high price.
Specifically, Lopez admitted to trading in his own name, as well as in the name “Da Big Kahuna” to disguise his trades. Williams admitted to trading in the names of several companies to make it appear there were multiple unrelated entities buying and selling the stock. According to court documents, Williams received cash payments and Lopez received free-trading stock and cash payments in return for their assistance in manipulating the stock prices of companies in which TBeck Capital owned and controlled large positions of free-trading stock.
The gain to all the co-conspirators from the fraudulent scheme exceeded $1 million, according to court documents.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Nicholas Acker and Trial Attorney Luke B. Marsh of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas provided valuable assistance.
This case was prosecuted in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.
Philadelphia PA March 30 2012 A 29-year-old man faces a maximum 10 years in prison for attempting to carry homemade fireworks on a plane Thursday morning at Philadelphia International Airport, officials said.
Joseph A. Picklo, of Dallas, Pa., attempted to get a on flight bound for San Francisco carrying two homemade M-80s, a plastic bottle filled with a powdery mixture, a test tube with a powdery substance and a wick, and a cigarette lighter, according to his arrest warrant.
Picklo was carrying the items in a back pack as he tried to get through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint for Terminals D/E around 6 a.m., the warrant said.
The discovery prompted the checkpoint to be shut down and passengers were moved to the security check-in at Terminal C, said airport spokewoman Victoria Lupica.
The closed checkpoint was reopened at 6:18 a.m., Lupica said.
The Philadelphia Police Bomb Squad neutralized the fireworks. Police said early in the day that Picklo told authorites that forgot he was carrying the fireworks.
Picklo was charged with with attempting to carry on an explosive device on a plane, said a spokeswoman for the United States Attorney’s Office.
Picklo appeared before a federal magistrate and had a federal defender appointed to represent him.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.