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.

Caddell Construction Co. Commits to Pay $2 Million Penalty in Agreement to Resolve Criminal Fraud Violations

WASHINGTON – Caddell Construction Company Inc., a major commercial and industrial federal government construction contractor based in Montgomery, Ala., has entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve criminal fraud violations arising from Caddell’s intentional overstating of developmental assistance provided to a disadvantaged small business as part of a Department of Defense (DoD) program.  The agreement, including a $2 million penalty to be paid by Caddell, was announced today by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

According to the non-prosecution agreement (NPA) between the government and Caddell, in February 2003, Caddell entered into an agreement with Mountain Chief – which is certified as a Native American, woman-owned and economically-disadvantaged small business – to participate in the DoD’s Mentor-Protégé Program, in which major DoD contractors (mentor firms) contract with and provide developmental assistance to disadvantaged small businesses (protégé firms) and are reimbursed by the DoD for related costs.

Around the same time, Caddell began participating with Mountain Chief in DoD’s Indian Incentive Program, which provides incentives – in the form of a rebate of 5 percent of the total dollar amount of work – for major DoD contractors to engage Native-American-owned businesses as subcontractors and suppliers.  Caddell and Mountain Chief participated in these programs in connection with two DoD construction contracts at Fort Bragg, N.C., each worth approximately $65 million and a DoD construction project at Fort Campbell, Ky., worth approximately $34 million.

According to the NPA, from February 2004 to March 2005, Caddell submitted more than 20 requests for payment to the DoD in connection with the Mentor-Protégé Program that significantly overstated the amount of developmental assistance Caddell had provided Mountain Chief.  In addition, Caddell filed documents falsely stating Mountain Chief’s size and income, as well as the status of Mountain Chief’s technical capabilities and business infrastructure.  From April 2003 to October 2004, Caddell also submitted at least eight requests to the DoD for the Indian Incentive Program, for rebates based on services purportedly performed on subcontracts Caddell gave to Mountain Chief.  Mountain Chief performed few, if any of these services, and the invoices were created solely to support Caddell’s applications for payment.

As part of the NPA, Caddell will pay a $2 million criminal penalty, and must cooperate with the Department of Justice for the two-year term of the agreement.  The agreement recognizes Caddell’s voluntary disclosure; thorough self-investigation of the underlying conduct; and full cooperation with the department and remedial measures already undertaken and to be undertaken, including employment actions and improving reporting systems, corporate governance, and compliance training and oversight.  As a result of these factors, among others, the department agreed not to prosecute Caddell for the improper pay requests, provided Caddell satisfies its ongoing obligations under the agreement.

In January 2012, Daniel W. Chattin, 50, of Granite Bay, Calif., the son of Mountain Chief’s owner and a project manager and consultant for Mountain Chief, and Mark L. Hill, 57, of Montgomery, Ala., the Mentor-Protégé Program Coordinator and a director of business development at Caddell, were indicted in the Middle District of Alabama on three counts of major fraud against the United States stemming from the same scheme.  In addition, Hill was charged with one count of making a false statement to the DoD.  Chattin and Hill await trial, which is scheduled to begin on April 22, 2013.  The charges and allegations against Chattin and Hill are merely accusations and they are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This investigation is being conducted by the General Services Administration – Office of Inspector General, and the DoD’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service.  This case is being handled by Assistant Chief Albert B. Stieglitz Jr. and Trial Attorney Thomas B.W. Hall of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.