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Fort Lauderdale Securities Law Blog

Russell L. Forkey

Mark Welhouse and Welhouse & Associates, Inc. - South Florida Improper Trade Allocation and Cherry-Picking FINRA Arbitration and Litigation Attorney

Mark Welhouse and Welhouse & Associates, Inc. - South Florida Improper Trade Allocation and Cherry-Picking FINRA Arbitration and Litigation Attorney

SEC Announces Cherry-Picking Charges Against Investment Manager

Case Arises From Enforcement Initiative Analyzing Large Volumes of Investment Advisers' Trade Allocation Data

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced fraud charges against a Wisconsin-based investment advisory firm and its owner accused of improperly allocating to his personal and business accounts certain options trades that appreciated in value during the course of a trading day while allocating to his clients other trades that depreciated in value.

The SEC Enforcement Division has engaged in a data-driven initiative to identify potentially fraudulent trade allocations known as "cherry-picking," and this enforcement action is the first arising from that effort. Working with economists in the agency's Division of Economic and Risk Analysis, enforcement investigators analyze large volumes of investment advisers' trade allocation data and identify instances where it appears an adviser is disproportionately allocating profitable trades to favored accounts.

The SEC Enforcement Division alleges that Mark P. Welhouse purchased options in an omnibus or master account for Welhouse & Associates Inc. and delayed allocation of the purchases to either his or his clients' accounts until later in the day after he saw whether or not the securities appreciated in value. Welhouse allegedly reaped $442,319 in ill-gotten gains by unfairly allocating options trades in an S&P 500 exchange-traded fund named SPY. His personal trades in these options had an average first-day positive return of 6.28 percent while his clients' trades in these options had an average first-day loss of 5.05 percent.

As described in the SEC order instituting administrative proceedings against Welhouse and his firm, SEC staff conducted a statistical analysis to determine whether Welhouse's profitability in these accounts could have resulted from a coincidental or lucky combination of trades. After running a simulation test one million times, the staff concluded it could not.

The SEC Enforcement Division alleges that Welhouse and his firm violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The matter will be scheduled for a public hearing before an administrative law judge for proceedings to adjudicate the Enforcement Division's allegations and determine what, if any, remedial actions are appropriate.

Contact Us:

With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of elder abuse, exploitation and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.

At the Boca Raton Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.

Gregory G. Jones and Aquaphex Total Water Solutions - South Florida Oil and Gas Fraud and Misrepresentation Litigation and Arbitration Attorney

Gregory G. Jones and Aquaphex Total Water Solutions - South Florida Oil and Gas Fraud and Misrepresentation Litigation and Arbitration Attorney

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Aquaphex Total Water Resources and Gregory Jones, Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-00438-A, (NDTX, filed June 10, 2015)

Texas Lawyer Admits to Conducting Fraudulent Offering

On June 10, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission ("Commission") filed a settled civil action against attorney Gregory G. Jones and Aquaphex Total Water Solutions in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division. The Commission alleges that Jones and Aquaphex defrauded investors in two separate oil-and-gas investment schemes. In a separately filed Consent, Jones and Aquaphex admitted the underlying facts and consented to the entry of a final judgment, permanently enjoining them from violating the anti-fraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws.

Jones and Aquaphex admitted that Aquaphex, through its CEO, Jones, raised approximately $645,000 by selling revenue-sharing agreements and other securities issued by Aquaphex. The company purported to recycle fracking water through a filtration process. Among other things, Jones and Aquaphex guaranteed that investors would double their investment even if the planned water-filtration plants underperformed. They also made baseless claims that investors would make returns of more than 115% per year, and that Aquaphex was expected to sell for $21 billion within five years. Separately, in 2009, Jones represented a small group of investors that invested approximately $6 million in an entity called Edwards Exploration. Jones failed to disclose to the investors that Edwards Exploration paid Jones approximately $480,000 from the principal amount invested.

Jones and Aquaphex have agreed to settlements that are subject to court approval. Both defendants admitted the facts underlying the Commission's claims and consented to the entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining them from violating the anti-fraud provisions, specifically Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 ("Securities Act"), and from violating the registration provisions, specifically Sections 5(a) and (c) of the Securities Act. The Commission's claims for disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties are the subject of ongoing litigation.

Contact Us:

With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of elder abuse, exploitation and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.

At the Boca Raton Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.

Joshua A. Yudell, Oxford Advisors, Inc., Oxford Capital Advisors, LLC. - Boca Raton, Florida Investment Fraud and Breach of Contract Agreement Litigation and Arbitration Attorney

Joshua A. Yudell, Oxford Advisors, Inc., Oxford Capital Advisors, LLC. - Boca Raton, Florida Investment Fraud and Breach of Contract Agreement Litigation and Arbitration Attorney

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Joshua A. Yudell and OCFB LLC, et al., Civil Action No. 1:15-cv-4548 (S.D.N.Y. June 11, 2015)

SEC Charges Individual with Operating an Unregistered Brokerage Business

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a New York-based individual, operating through numerous doing-business-as entities, with effecting transactions in securities while neither he nor any of the entities he controlled were registered with the Commission as a broker or dealer.

The SEC alleges that, beginning at least as early as April 2010, Joshua A. Yudell, operating through OCFB LLC; Oxford Advisors, Inc.; Oxford Capital Advisors, LLC; Oxford Capital Alternative Investments, Inc.; Oxford Capital Fund, LP; and Oxford Capital Fund, LLP; entered into numerous agreements with securities owners pursuant to which he would obtain custody and control over their securities, attempt to sell the securities into the market, and then provide the net proceeds, minus Yudell's fees, to the securities owners. Yudell agreed to pay a total of $4,420,568.87 to settle the SEC's charges.

Without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC's complaint, Yudell consented to the entry of a final judgment that, among other things, orders him to pay disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and financial penalties, and permanently enjoins him from violating Section 15(a)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Contact Us:

With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of elder abuse, exploitation and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.

At the Boca Raton Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.

Retirement and Senior Financial Abuse Litigation and Arbitration Attorney

South Florida Retirement and Senior Financial Abuse Litigation and Arbitration Attorney

How You Can Help Others Who May Have Diminished Financial Capacity

You may have a parent or other loved one with diminished financial capacity, or who you worry may face that issue in the future. If so, consider the following steps to help.

  • Have an open conversation about investments and other financial matters sooner rather than later.  Even if it feels awkward, it is important to have an honest conversation about finances. Ask your loved one to consider taking the steps outlined above.  Even if he or she does not want to take these steps, ask your relative or friend to consider how he or she wants to maintain control of his or her finances in the future.  Explain that advance planning is a way to make sure that a trusted person makes decisions if he or she no longer can.
  • Help your relative or friend with managing finances. You may also offer to take a more active role in helping your loved one manage his or her financial accounts. Be alert both to mistakes that your loved one may make in managing finances and to any signs of elder financial abuse. It can be hard to tell whether actions are the result of confusion or of financial exploitation. For example, if you find that a loved one has paid the same bill twice by mistake, you should help him or her fix the error. But beware that multiple or unusual payments could also be a sign of financial exploitation, so don't rule out that possibility without looking into it. Be on guard for any sudden changes in investments that seem out of keeping with the loved one's longstanding goals, values and investment style. These changes may have come about because of confusion or may be a sign of financial exploitation.
  • If your family member or friend has named you to manage money or property, understand your responsibilities and how you can protect your loved one from financial exploitation. For example, your loved one may have named you as an agent under a power of attorney or a trustee under a revocable living trust. Read the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Managing Someone Else's Money guides. They walk you through your duties, tell you how to watch out for financial exploitation and scams, and tell you where you can go for help.

If you've been asked by a loved one or friend to help out with his or her finances, here are some things you can do to help.

  • Help with ongoing financial responsibilities. You may need to take on immediate tasks, such as helping to pay bills, arranging for benefit claims, preparing tax returns, or helping with investment decisions.
  • Review their investment portfolio. This might be a good time to help reevaluate the person's portfolio in light of his or her financial and medical situation. Does the person expect a big increase in health care, personal care or other costs as a result of his or her illness or disability? If so, will he or she have enough cash or liquid assets on hand to cover those costs? (Liquid investments are assets that the owner can sell readily and without paying a hefty fee to get money when it is needed.) These can be complex questions and you may wish to discuss them with a financial professional. Keep in mind that buying and selling investments on behalf of a loved one requires legal authority, through a power of attorney, a trust or similar arrangement.
  • Assess the riskiness of their investment portfolio. All investments involve some level of risk. But do the investments present the right level of risk at this stage of the person's life? If not, you may wish to consider contacting a registered investment adviser representative or registered broker-dealer representative for help.
  • Contact their investment professional. If your loved one has a financial professional and has authorized that person to speak with you, make the professional aware of your loved one's condition. This is critical so that the financial professional can make recommendations appropriate to the client's financial needs and can watch for signs of declining financial skills or potential abuse.

Your financial professional, or that of your loved one, may raise topics discussed in this article. Financial services firms are paying increasing attention to improving communications on this subject. If a financial professional does not raise these topics, however, you should feel free to raise them yourself.

Contact Us:

With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of elder abuse, exploitation and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.

At the Boca Raton Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.

Senior and Retirement Financial Exploitation and Financial Fraud Attorney

South Florida Senior and Retirement Financial Exploitation and Financial Fraud Litigation and Arbitration Attorney:

What is diminished financial capacity?

"Diminished financial capacity" is a term used to describe a decline in a person's ability to manage money and financial assets to serve his or her best interests, including the inability to understand the consequences of investment decisions. While the inability to manage one's money is clearly a problem in itself, when people of any age lose the capability to manage their finances, they may also become more vulnerable to investment fraud and other forms of financial abuse.

Preparing for Your Own Financial Future: Hope for the Best, But Plan for the Worst.

Losing the ability to manage your finances may be something you'd rather not think about.  We often think about our financial capabilities, like our ability to drive, as an important measure of our independence. But planning ahead may help you stay in control of your finances, even if diminished financial capacity becomes a serious problem. Taking the steps listed below now may help avoid or minimize problems for you and your family.

Organize your important documents. Organize and store important documents in a safe, easily accessible location. That way, they are readily available in an emergency. Give copies to trusted loved ones or let them know where to find the documents. Typically, the following documents will be most relevant to your finances:

  • Bank and brokerage statements and account information. Make a list of your accounts with account numbers. Keep a separate list of online bank and brokerage passwords and PINs and keep the lists in a safe place. In addition, make a list of the locations of your safe-deposit boxes, including where the keys to the safe-deposit boxes are located.  Also, keep your recent bank and brokerage statements available, as well as information about how to get those statements online if you access them electronically.
  • Mortgage and credit information. Make a list of your debts and regular payments, with account numbers and names of the financial institutions that issued the loans or credit cards.
  • Insurance policies
  • Pension and other retirement benefit summaries
  • Social Security payment information
  • Contact information for financial and medical professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, and securities professionals.
  • Provide your financial professionals with trusted emergency contacts. If you have a financial professional, such as a broker or investment adviser, provide that person with emergency or alternate contact information in case he or she cannot contact you or suspects something is wrong. You may wish to discuss with your financial professional what you would consider to be an "emergency," and specify when he or she may contact someone on your behalf. Discuss what information can be shared with your emergency contact. For example, you might provide your financial professional with a simple written instruction, such as: "Please call my son Mark at (222) 555-5555 if: (i) you are unable to reach me and there appears to be unusual activity regarding my account; (ii) you are unable to reach me for two weeks irrespective of any unusual account activity; or (iii) if you think I am confused or acting strangely." Providing an emergency contact generally will not enable the person to make investment decisions on your behalf - so be sure to take other steps if you want someone else to manage your accounts if you cannot.
  • Consider creating a durable financial power of attorney. A financial power of attorney gives someone the legal authority to make financial decisions for you if you cannot. That person is called your agent. The document is called "durable" because it remains in effect even if you become incapacitated. You retain the ability to change it or cancel it as long as you are still able to make decisions. A financial power of attorney differs from a health care power of attorney, which only covers health care decisions. You may want to consult with a lawyer to determine whether a durable financial power of attorney is right for you. After signing a durable financial power of attorney, you can still manage your money and property as long as you have the ability to make decisions. Also, it is important to remember that you always have the option to change who you choose to act as your appointed representative and the individuals you allow to access your financial information. As you are essentially giving financial decision-making authority to your agent, it is critical that he or she be someone you can trust.
  • Think about involving a trusted relative, friend, or professional. Besides listing them as emergency contacts, you may wish to give a trusted relative, friend, or professional an overview of your finances (even if you don't want to share all the details). For example, you might ask your broker or bank to send duplicate statements to your daughter or accountant. You might also consider asking a trusted friend or relative to join you on periodic visits to your financial professional. This would give someone you trust a sense of your financial situation and with whom you've been doing business. If you choose to involve a relative or friend, it is very important it is someone you are sure you can trust. Consider discussing the selection of the person with a number of other trusted friends or relatives.
  • Keep things up to date. Be sure that if something changes (for example, you open a new account) you keep your information as current as possible. Also, your trusted contact may change over time. Keep your financial professionals informed of changes regarding who has authority to review your account or whom they should contact in case of an emergency.
  • Speak up if something goes wrong. If you ever think someone is taking advantage of you, or that you've been the victim of a fraud, speak up. Sadly, sometimes even financial professionals and people we know commit financial crimes. There's no shame in being a victim, and the sooner you let someone know about it, the better chance there is of putting an end to it. Contact information for reporting abuse appears at the end of this document.

Contact Us:

With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of elder abuse, exploitation and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.

At the Boca Raton Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.

Pangaea Trading Partners, LLC., Arjent LLC., Arjent Limited, Excalibur Asset Management, LLC - South Florida Brokerage Firm Fraud and Misrepresentation Litigation and Arbitration Attorney

Pangaea Trading Partners, LLC., Arjent LLC., Arjent Limited, Excalibur Asset Management, LLC - South Florida, including Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach,  Brokerage Firm Fraud and Misrepresentation Litigation and Arbitration Attorney

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Robert P. DePalo, Joshua B. Gladtke, Gregg A. Lerman, Pangaea Trading Partners LLC, Arjent LLC, Arjent Limited, Excalibur Asset Management LLC, Rosemarie DePalo (Relief Defendant), and Allied International Fund, Inc. (Relief Defendant),, Civil Action No. 15-CV-3877 (S.D.N.Y., filed May 20, 2015)

SEC Charges Brokerage Firm Co-Owners with Defrauding Investors

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced fraud charges against the co-owners of a Manhattan-based brokerage firm.  The SEC alleges that as Arjent LLC and its UK-based affiliate Arjent Limited were approaching insolvency, chairman and CEO Robert P. DePalo attempted to keep the firms afloat and maintain his extravagant lifestyle by selling shares in a holding company called Pangaea Trading Partners. DePalo along with managing director and co-owner Joshua B. Gladtke allegedly misrepresented to investors the value of Pangaea's assets and how their money would be used - transferring the first $2.3 million raised in the offering directly to his own bank accounts and using it for his personal benefit. DePalo also allegedly transferred investor funds to Gladtke, and sought to cover up their fraud by making misrepresentations to SEC examiners.

In a parallel action, the New York County District Attorney's Office has announced criminal charges against DePalo and Gladtke.

The SEC's complaint, filed on May 20, 2015 in federal court in Manhattan, charges DePalo and Gladtke with violating the antifraud and books and records provisions of the federal securities laws. Also charged in the SEC's complaint are Pangaea, the Arjent entities, and another entity owned and controlled by DePalo called Excalibur Asset Management as well as another principal at Arjent LLC named Gregg A. Lerman, who agreed to settle the charges. Subject to court approval, Lerman is enjoined from future violations with any disgorgement and financial penalty amounts to be determined by the court at a later date.

Contact Us:

With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of elder abuse, exploitation and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.

At the Boca Raton Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.

Adam S. Gottbetter - South Florida Securities, Investment and Commercial Litigation Attorney

Adam S. Gottbetter - South Florida Securities, Investment and Commercial Litigation Attorney

SEC Charges New York Lawyer and Two Promoters With Market Manipulation

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced fraud charges against a securities lawyer who used his New York law office as the headquarters for planning and implementing market manipulation schemes. Also charged were two stock promoters from Canada who assisted him.

The SEC alleges that Adam S. Gottbetter orchestrated promotional campaigns that touted the prospects of microcap companies and enticed investors to buy their stock at inflated prices so he and his cohorts could sell shares they controlled and reap massive profits. Gottbetter enlisted Mitchell G. Adam and K. David Stevenson to help him in the last of three schemes he conducted in a six-year period. They repeatedly cautioned each other about the dangers of missteps that might draw law enforcement attention to the scheme, such as failing to keep secret the identities of Adam and Stevenson. The three rehearsed stories they would tell if ever questioned by law enforcement. During one meeting in New York City, Gottbetter complained about the difficulties of stock manipulation but conceded that robbing a bank was the only other way to make so much money so quickly.

Gottbetter agreed to pay $4.6 million to settle the SEC's charges. Stevenson also agreed to settle the SEC charges against him while a case against Adam will be litigated in federal court in Newark, N.J.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey today announced criminal charges against Gottbetter, Adam, and Stevenson.

According to the SEC's complaint, Gottbetter was involved in the manipulation of the stocks of Kentucky USA Energy Inc. (KYUS) and Dynastar Holdings Inc. (DYNA) before teaming up with Adam and Stevenson in July 2013 to utilize their offshore ties for a new and potentially more lucrative scheme. Together they schemed to drive up the stock price for purported oil and gas exploration company HBP Energy Corp. (HBPE) through fraudulent trades generated by a trading algorithm. They then planned to launch an extensive promotional campaign featuring multiple call centers, roadshows, and a listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. After creating the false appearance of liquidity and investor interest, they planned to dump their shares of the stock on unsuspecting investors around the world. While Stevenson and Adam managed to do some small coordinated trades, the scheme was thwarted before the planned manipulation and promotion could be launched when Stevenson was arrested by the FBI.

The SEC's complaint alleges that Gottbetter violated Sections 5(a), 5(c) and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and violated and aided and abetted violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. The complaint alleges that Adam and Stevenson violated and aided and abetted violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.

Gottbetter agreed to be barred from the penny stock industry in addition to paying $4.6 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest from ill-gotten gains in the Kentucky USA Energy manipulation scheme. He consented to injunctions against future violations. Stevenson also agreed to be barred from the penny stock industry and consented to an injunction against future violations. The settlements are subject to court approval.

Contact Us:

With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of elder abuse, exploitation and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.

At the Boca Raton Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.

North Dakota Developments, LLC., Robert L. Gavin and Daniel J. Hogan - South Florida Securities and Investment Fraud and Commercial Litigation Attorney

North Dakota Developments, LLC., Robert L. Gavin and Daniel J. Hogan - South Florida Securities and Investment Fraud and Commercial Litigation Attorney:

Securities and Exchange Commission v. North Dakota Developments, LLC, Robert L. Gavin, and Daniel J. Hogan, et. al., Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-00053-DLH-CSM (D.N.D.)

SEC Halts Bakken Oil and Gas-Related Investment Scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced charges and an emergency asset freeze against North Dakota Developments, LLC ("NDD") and its two principals for allegedly defrauding investors in a scheme to purportedly build and operate short-term housing facilities or "man camps" for workers in the Bakken oil and gas formation of North Dakota and Montana.

The SEC alleges that NDD and its owners Robert L. Gavin and Daniel J. Hogan have raised over $62 million from hundreds of investors in various states in the U.S. and foreign countries for interests in one of four "man camp" projects. According to the SEC's complaint filed recently in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota, investors bought "units" in NDD's projects motivated by the Defendants' promises of exceptionally high annual returns, up to 42%, and that NDD would jointly manage all of the units as a fully-developed short-term housing facility with amenities typically found in a hotel. The SEC also alleges that the Defendants offered investors the option of receiving a "guaranteed" annual return of up to 25% of the purchase price of their unit without regard to actual rental income. As further inducement to invest, Defendants also promised investors that the various projects would be operational in a very short time frame, often within months. In reality, the SEC alleges, despite the substantial amount of funds raised by the Defendants since May 2012, at the present time, none of the projects are fully operational and one of the projects offered does not even have governmental approval for construction to begin.

According to the SEC's complaint, Defendants directly or indirectly made material misrepresentations and omissions regarding the use of investor funds, the payment of commissions, and the return on the investment. Among other things, the SEC alleges that NDD's first project was delayed and unprofitable. The SEC alleges that, despite the lack of profits, the Defendants made Ponzi-style payments to certain early investors by paying their "guaranteed" returns using funds provided by later investors. The SEC also alleges that instead of developing the projects as promised, the Defendants have misappropriated over $25 million of investor funds to pay undisclosed commissions to sales agents, make payments to Gavin and Hogan, make investments in unrelated Bakken area projects for Gavin's and Hogan's personal benefit, and to make the Ponzi-like payments.

On May 5, 2015, the Honorable Daniel L. Hovland for the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota granted the SEC's request for a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against NDD, Gavin, and Hogan. A court hearing has been scheduled for May 18, 2015, on the SEC's motion for a preliminary injunction.

The Commission's complaint alleges that NDD, Gavin, and Hogan violated Sections 5(a), 5(c), and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder; and seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, and financial penalties against each of them.

Contact Us:

With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of elder abuse, exploitation and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.

At the Boca Raton Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.

Argent, LLC and Arjent Limited - Brokerage Firm Fraud and Misrepresentation FINRA Arbitration and Litigation Attorney

Argent, LLC and Arjent Limited - Brokerage Firm Fraud and Misrepresentation - South Florida, including Deerfield Beach, Lake Worth, Boca Raton and Delray Beach FINRA Arbitration and Litigation Attorney

SEC Charges Brokerage Firm Co-Owners With Defrauding Investors

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced fraud charges against the co-owners of a Manhattan-based brokerage firm.

The SEC alleges that as Arjent LLC and its UK-based affiliate Arjent Limited were approaching insolvency, chairman and CEO Robert P. DePalo attempted to keep the firms afloat and maintain his extravagant lifestyle by selling shares in a holding company called Pangaea Trading Partners.  DePalo along with managing director and co-owner Joshua B. Gladtke allegedly misrepresented to investors the value of Pangaea's assets and how their money would be used - transferring the first $2.3 million raised in the offering directly to his own bank accounts and using it for his personal benefit. DePalo also allegedly transferred investor funds to Gladtke, and sought to cover up their fraud by making misrepresentations to SEC examiners.

In a parallel action, the New York County District Attorney's Office recently announced criminal charges against DePalo and Gladtke.

The SEC's complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan charges DePalo and Gladtke with violating the antifraud and books-and-records provisions of the federal securities laws. Also charged in the SEC's complaint are Pangaea, the Arjent entities, and another entity owned and controlled by DePalo called Excalibur Asset Management. The SEC also charged another principal at Arjent LLC named Gregg A. Lerman, who agreed to settle the charges. Subject to court approval, Lerman is enjoined from future violations with any disgorgement and financial penalty amounts to be determined by the court at a later date.

Contact Us:

With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of elder abuse, exploitation and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.

At the Boca Raton Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.

Sethi Petroleum, LLC and Sameer Praveen Sethi - Fraudulent Oil and Gas Scheme - South Florida Commercial Litigation Attorney

Sethi Petroleum, LLC and Sameer Praveen Sethi - Fraudulent Oil and Gas Scheme - South Florida, including Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Commercial Litigation Attorney

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Sethi Petroleum, LLC and Sameer Sethi, Civil Action No. 4:15-CV-338 (E.D. Tex.)

SEC Halts Fraudulent Oil and Gas Scheme and Obtains Asset Freeze and Appointment of a Receiver Over Sameer Sethi and Sethi Petroleum, LLC

On May 14, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an emergency civil action against Sethi Petroleum, LLC and its president, Sameer Praveen Sethi, for offering fraudulent oil and gas investments. At the Commission's request, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has entered a temporary restraining order halting the offering, as well as orders appointing a receiver over, and freezing, the defendants' assets.

The Commission's complaint alleges that, since at least January 2014, defendants have raised approximately $4 million through the fraudulent offer and sale of securities in the Sethi-North Dakota Drilling Fund-LVIII Joint Venture ("NDDF"). According to the complaint, defendants' offering materials represented that 70% of investor funds would be used to acquire working interests in and drill and complete 20 oil and gas wells in the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota. But the Commission alleges that defendants spent less than 25% for these purposes. Instead, defendants spent more than 75% of investor funds on undisclosed and unapproved expenditures such as diverting $1.6 million to Sameer Sethi, his family, and Sethi Petroleum's parent company and over $1 million to sales employees. Less than $1 million of the funds raised went to NDDF's actual oil and gas operations.

The Commission also contends that defendants made numerous other misrepresentations and omissions to NDDF investors. For instance, defendants falsely claimed to have "partnered directly with" large public oil and gas companies like ConocoPhillips and Continental Resources, Inc. to develop oil and gas properties, and Sethi Petroleum's website featured corporate logos for other well-known companies like Exxon Mobil and Hess Corporation, falsely suggesting that defendants had relationships with these companies as well. The Commission further alleges that defendants misled investors about the number of wells in which NDDF actually held interests; the operating status of those wells; and the returns investors could expect from those properties. Defendants also failed adequately to disclose prior enforcement actions taken against them and their affiliates by state securities regulators, and Sameer Sethi's prior criminal conviction and incarceration.

The complaint alleges that both defendants violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 ("Securities Act"), and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act") and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and that Sameer Sethi also violated Exchange Act Section 20(b) and is liable under Exchange Act Section 20(a) as a control person for Sethi Petroleum's violations. The Commission seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties against both defendants.

Contact Us:

With extensive courtroom, arbitration and mediation experience and an in-depth understanding of elder abuse, exploitation and securities law, our firm provides all of our clients with the personal service they deserve. Handling cases worth $25,000 or more, we represent clients throughout Florida and across the United States, as well as for foreign individuals that invested in U.S. banks or brokerage firms. Contact us to arrange your free initial consultation.

At the Boca Raton Law Office of Russell L. Forkey, we represent clients throughout South and Central Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray, Boynton Beach, Hollywood, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Manalapan, Jupiter, Gulf Stream, Wellington, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Miami, Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Heathrow, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Ormand Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Dade County, Orange County, Seminole County, Martin County, Brevard County, Indian River County, Volusia County and Monroe County, Florida. The law office of Russell L. Forkey also represents South American, Canadian and other foreign residents that do business with U.S. financial institutions, investment advisors, brokerage and precious metal firms.

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Russell L. Forkey, P.A.

1075 Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 103

Boca Raton, FL 33487

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