Attorney Convicted in Multimillion-Dollar Stock Fraud

Attorney Mitchell J. Stein, 53, of Hidden Hills, Calif., was convicted by a jury in the Southern District of Florida for his role in operating a five-year, multimillion-dollar market manipulation and fraud scheme, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Stein was charged in a December 2011 indictment and on May 20, 2013, he was convicted on all counts: conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and three counts each of mail fraud and wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; three counts of securities fraud, which each carry a maximum penalty of 25 years; three counts of money laundering, which each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years; and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Stein is being detained until sentencing, which is scheduled for Aug. 16, 2013.

According to evidence presented at trial, Stein’s wife held a controlling interest in Signalife Inc., a publicly-traded company currently known as Heart Tronics that purportedly sold electronic heart monitoring devices.  Stein engaged in a scheme to artificially inflate the price of Signalife stock by creating the false impression of sales activity for Signalife.  Specifically, the evidence at trial showed that Stein and his co-conspirators created fake purchase orders and related documents from fictitious customers, then caused Signalife to issue press releases and file documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) trumpeting these fictitious sales.  Evidence at trial also proved that in a further effort to create the false appearance of sales activity, Stein arranged to have Signalife products shipped to and temporarily stored with an individual who had not purchased any products.

Evidence at trial further proved that Stein disguised his selling of stock during the conspiracy by placing shares in purportedly blind trusts, and that he had a co-conspirator sell shares of Signalife stock after Stein caused false information to be disseminated to the public.  Stein also caused Signalife to issue shares to third parties so that those third parties could sell the shares and remit the proceeds of those sales to Stein.  From one co-conspirator alone, Stein received illicit gains of over $1.8 million.     In addition, evidence at trial proved that Stein conspired to obstruct the SEC’s investigation into Heart Tronics by testifying falsely and arranging for others to testify falsely in an effort to conceal the scheme described above.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

This matter was referred to the Department by the SEC, which conducted a parallel investigation and in December 2011 announced the filing of a civil enforcement action against Stein and others.  The Department thanks the SEC for its substantial assistance in this matter.  The Department also acknowledges the substantial assistance of FINRA’s Criminal Prosecution Assistance Group.     This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Albert B. Stieglitz, Jr. and Trial Attorneys Kevin B. Muhlendorf and Andrew H. Warren of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

North Carolina Commodities Firm Owner Sentenced to 36 Months in Prison for Multimillion-dollar Fraud

The principal and co-owner of North Carolina-based Integra Capital Management LLC, was sentenced today to serve 36 months in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud commodities trading investors of more than $3.2 million, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney of the Western District of North Carolina Anne M. Tompkins.
Nicholas Cox, 35, of Lexington, N.C., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr., in the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to his prison term, Cox was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,981,477 in restitution.
On Dec. 22, 2012, Cox pleaded guilty in the Western District of North Carolina to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to court documents, between September 2006 and January 2009, Cox and his co-conspirator, Rodney Whitney, 50, of Archdale, N.C., the co-owner of Integra, engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in commodity trading pools operated by the firm. Integra was established purportedly for the purpose of pooling investors’ funds in commodity pools, and investing in commodity futures and foreign currency exchange trading. According to court documents, Cox and Whitney obtained and misappropriated more than $3.2 million in investor funds and fabricated account statements and tax forms to conceal their fraud.
According to court documents, Cox and Whitney falsely represented, among other things, that Integra’s managers had more than 30 years of combined market experience; that Integra paid dividends of two to five percent of the investor’s initial investment, which was derived from Integra’s trading profits; and investors could remove their principal investments within five days upon giving notice to Integra. According to court documents, Cox and Whitney used the money invested by later investors to pay the monthly investment returns they had promised to earlier investors, to purchase real estate, to fund other business ventures and to purchase automobiles and other personal goods and services.
On March 21, 2011, Whitney pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced on Jan. 7, 2013, to 60 months in prison for his role in the scheme.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Luke Marsh of the Criminal Division’ s Fraud Section and Benjamin Bain-Creed and Kenny Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
This prosecution was done in coordination 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’s 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 .