The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a New Jersey man and his company with illicitly pocketing $13 million from an elaborate pump-and-dump scheme.
The SEC alleges that Samuel DelPresto teamed up with others to secretly obtain control of substantially all available stock in four microcap companies and to facilitate coordinated trading that created the appearance of liquidity and market demand for the stocks. After unwitting investors were enticed through promotional campaigns to buy the stock at inflated prices, DelPresto dumped his shares on the market.
“The series of fraudulent schemes alleged in our complaint enticed unwitting investors to pay inflated prices for four companies secretly controlled by DelPresto and others and then left the investors holding the bag when the manipulative activity ceased and the stock price dropped,” said Andrew M. Calamari, Regional Director of the SEC’s New York office.
In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey today announced criminal charges against DelPresto.
According to the SEC’s complaint, the microcap companies manipulated by DelPresto were: BioNeutral Group (BONU), NXT Nutritionals Holdings (NXTH), Mesa Energy Holdings (MSEH), and Clear-Lite Holdings (CLRH).
The SEC’s complaint charges DelPresto with violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains along with prejudgment interest, financial penalties, and a penny stock bar.
The SEC’s continuing investigation is being conducted by Rhonda L. Jung, Teresa A. Rodriguez, Melissa Coppola, Nancy A. Brown, Adam S. Grace, and Wendy B. Tepperman of the New York office. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Ms. Brown and the case is being supervised by Lara Shalov Mehraban. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.