Tuesday, August 23, 2016
BOSTON – A California-based securities attorney was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with his role in manipulating the stock of a series of publicly traded companies, including CitySide Tickets, Inc., a Boston-based ticket reseller.
Richard Weed, 53, of Newport Beach, Calif., was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to four years in prison, three years of supervised release, forfeiture of $90,000 and a fine of $100,000. In May 2016, Weed was convicted following a 10 day trial of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud.
Weed, along with at least two others, conspired to create the appearance that CitySide was a growing company when, in fact, it was in dire financial straits. Weed, who served as CitySide’s Secretary and as one of two members of CitySide’s Board, was responsible for drafting false and misleading legal opinion letters so that his co-conspirators could obtain free trading stock. Weed also helped his co-conspirators to conceal their control and ownership of CitySide by directing the stock to be distributed to different entities that they controlled. This allowed the conspirators to manipulate CitySide’s stock and sell their shares at artificially high prices. In addition to assisting with the manipulation itself, Weed was also responsible for responding to any inquiries from investors or securities regulators.
The conviction follows a multi-year investigation focusing on preventing fraud in the microcap stock markets. Microcap companies are small publicly traded companies whose stock often trades at pennies per share. Fraud in the microcap markets is of increasing concern to regulators as such markets have proven to be fertile grounds for fraud and abuse. This is, in part, because accurate information about microcap stocks may be difficult for the average investor to find, since many microcap companies do not file financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, which conducted a parallel civil investigation, cooperated with criminal authorities in bringing this case.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. Walters, Chief of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit and SEC Attorney Eric A. Forni, who was appointed as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.