In July and August, several individuals were sentenced for their involvement in a $131 million securities fraud scheme. From 2009 to 2015, the coconspirators fraudulently controlled the price and volume of shares traded in a publicly traded company called ForceField Energy Inc. by using nominees to buy and sell company stock without disclosing this to other investors, orchestrating ForceField stock trading that would appear as real trading volume and interest, and hiding payments to stock promoters and broker dealers who claimed to be independent of the company.  The total financial loss caused was approximately $131 million, and five coconspirators have been sentenced.  Former registered broker and commodities trading firm owner Herschel C. Knippa III was sentenced to 15 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and $3,690,000 in restitution and forfeiture, having earlier pled guilty to securities fraud conspiracy in connection with the scheme. Registered broker Gerald Cocuzzo was sentenced to 18 months after pleading guilty.  Jared Mitchell, an investor relations professional, was sentenced to 36 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release.  All three also received kickbacks from an executive of ForceField for promoting the company’s stock at investor conferences, brokerage accounts, and on investor-oriented TV programs.  U.S. v. Mitchell et al., No. 16-CR-234 (BMC) (E.D.N.Y.).

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