Florida Internet Stock
Promoter Admits Securities Fraud;
Forfeits More Than $3.5 Million in Cash and Assets
United States Department of
January 5, 2005
The former head of Stockgenie.com, an Internet stock promotion web site, pleaded guilty today to conspiring with at least five other individuals to engage in an elaborate scheme to defraud investors of more than $20 million, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.
Irving Freiberg, 48, of Boca Raton, Fla., and a former resident of New York, entered his plea in U.S. District Court in before Judge William G. Bassler. As part of his plea agreement, Freiberg has agreed to forfeit more than $3.5 million in cash and assets to reimburse defrauded investors.
At his plea hearing, Freiberg admitted that he knew that Marc Armand Rousso, Jean Pierre Collardeau, Charles Nisenbaum and others created Pro Net Link (PNLK) as a public company, and that they had agreed to issue millions of shares of PNLK stock in the names of co-conspirators in order to conceal their scheme from the investing public.
Freiberg admitted that he knew that they secretly controlled millions of dollars worth of PNLK stock that was issued in the names of foreign nominees Nicole Peignier, Martine Meillot, Eric Niger, and Muriel Prochasson. Freiberg also admitted that he learned that they had issued a large block of PNLK stock to a fictitious identity, Robert Sambou, that was created in furtherance of the scheme. Freiberg admitted that he knew that the issued shares were then deposited into nominee accounts in Canada, which the conspirators controlled.
Freiberg admitted that in March 1998, he and Irving Stitsky entered into an agreement with Marc Armand Rousso, Charles Nisenbaum, and Jean Pierre Collardeau to tout PNLK to the investing public, through Freiberg's stock promotion web site, Stockgenie.com, in order to spark interest and greater demand for the company's stock. Freiberg and Stitsky, were told by Collardeau, along with others, that Collardeau and his co-conspirators secretly controlled almost all the free-trading PNLK stock held in nominee names in brokerage accounts in Canada.
Freiberg admitted that in return for the stock promotion, he and Stitsky were to receive, from Collardeau and his co-conspirators, a significant percentage of the profits from the sale of PNLK stock through the nominee accounts. He also admitted that this arrangement was concealed from the investing public through the creation and execution of a sham contract, wherein Freiberg and Stitsky purportedly were to receive only $50,000. In truth, Freiberg admitted that he and Stitsky ultimately received $5.8 million for their efforts.
Freiberg admitted that the co-conspirators ultimately received and shared in excess of $20 million derived from the sale of PNLK stock.
Freiberg further admitted that after the stock promotion of PNLK in 1998 he continued his fraudulent stock promotion activities. Freiberg admitted that from 1998 until his arrest in 2003 he engaged in the fraudulent stock promotion of over 80 companies and reaped profits of over $25 million.
Freiberg admitted to promoting the various companies in a manner similar to the method employed in the PNLK stock scheme. He admitted that in each of the stock promotions he was involved in he touted the companies without regard for the truth and often entered into arrangements with company officers and affiliated persons.
Freiberg pleaded guilty to Count Two of the three-count Indictment which charges securities fraud. The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain received by the conspirators, a penalty that could be in excess of $40 million. Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Under Sentencing Guidelines, defendants who are given custodial terms must serve nearly all that time.
As part of the plea agreement, Freiberg agreed to forfeit to the United States: his home in Boca Raton, Florida; five vehicles, including a 2003 Mercedes Benz, a 2003 Aston Martin, a 2002 Bently Azure, and a 2004 Maserati; and several hundred thousand dollars in jewelry. The total estimated worth of the forfeited assets is in excess of $2 million, not including more than $1.5 million in cash. The forfeited properties and cash will be made available to defrauded investors.
Christie credited Special Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge John Kelleghan in Philadelphia and Postal Inspectors of the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Martin D. Phanco. Christie gave special acknowledgment to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Regional Office; and the British Columbia Securities Commission; and the Federal Office of Justics, Swiss Central Authority; and the Office of International Affairs, Department of Justice.
The Government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mauro Wolfe, of the U.S. Attorney's Criminal Division in Newark.
Defense Attorney: Jeffrey C. Hoffman, Esq. New York City
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