May 2014

May 22, 2014 — The SEC charged a former director of the Long Island-based vitamin company, NBTY Inc., and others in his family circle with insider trading ahead of the company’s sale to private equity firm The Carlyle Group.  The SEC alleges that board member Glenn Cohen learned that NBTY was negotiating a sale to The Carlyle Group and tipped his three brothers and a brother’s girlfriend with the confidential information.  Craig Cohen, Marc Cohen, Steven Cohen, and Laurie Topal all traded on the inside information that Glenn Cohen provided and reaped illicit profits totaling $175,000.  The four Cohens and Topal agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by paying a total of more than $500,000.  SEC

May 21, 2014 — The SEC charged Gaeton “Guy” S. Della Penna, a Sarasota, Florida-based private fund manager, with defrauding investors in a Ponzi scheme that ensued after he squandered their money on bad investments and personal expenses.  The SEC alleges that Della Penna raised $3.8M from investors in three private investment funds that he operated but then lost nearly all of their money by making unsuccessful investments and diverting more than a million dollars to himself and his girlfriend.  In an effort to cover up his fraud as it unraveled, Della Penna began operating a Ponzi scheme by using money from newer investors to pay fake returns to prior investors.  SEC

May 20, 2014 — The SEC charged James T. Adams, the former chief risk officer at Deloitte LLP, for causing violations of the auditor independence rules that ensure audit firms maintain their objectivity and impartiality with respect to their clients.  Specifically, Adams repeatedly accepted tens of thousands of dollars in casino markers while he was the advisory partner on subsidiary Deloitte & Touche’s audit of a casino gaming corporation.  Adams concealed his casino markers from Deloitte & Touche and lied to another partner when asked if he had casino markers from audit clients of the firm.  He agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by being suspended for at least two years from practicing as an accountant on behalf of any publicly traded company or other entity regulated by the SEC.  SEC

May 15, 2014 — The SEC charged Behrooz Sarafraz, a California-based securities salesman for selling millions of dollars in oil-and-gas investments without being registered with the SEC as a broker-dealer or associated with a registered broker-dealer.  According to the SEC’s complaint, Sarafraz acted as the primary salesman on behalf of TVC Opus I Drilling Program and Tri-Valley Corp. which together from February 2002 to April 2010 raised more than $140M million for their oil-and-gas drilling venture.  While Sarafraz was raising money for these entities, he was not associated with any broker-dealer registered with the SEC and thus denied denied investors the protections of regulatory oversight and firm supervision.  He agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by paying disgorgement of his commissions, prejudgment interest, and a penalty for a total of more than $22M.  SEC