On January 26, 2018, federal officials announced that three additional individuals have pled guilty to conspiracy charges in connection with several “pump and dump” and other stock manipulation schemes involving fraudulently registered companies.  According to public statements from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and court filings, owner of stock transfer agent Manhattan Transfer Registrar Co. (“Manhattan Transfer”) John Ahearn and California attorney Andrew H. Wilson each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to unlawfully sell unregistered securities before U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams.  New York resident Yelena Furman pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga.  According to officials, these three individuals participated in a conspiracy spanning from early 2007 through at least 2014 to fraudulently create public companies and engage in stock manipulation schemes involving shares of these companies.  Manhattan Transfer owner Ahearn was alleged to have assisted with the unlawful transfer of shares of Entertainment Art, Inc. (“EERT”) that were controlled by EERT principals but held in the names of straw or nominee shareholders; these shares were ultimately used in a pump-and-dump scheme.  Authorities alleged attorney Wilson authored false and fraudulent legal opinion letters for EERT, falsely stating certain blocks of shares were owned by individuals who were not affiliated with EERT.  For her part, Furman was accused of participating in the filing of fraudulent documents with the SEC for EERT and other companies controlled by stock promoter Myron Gushlak, who was convicted of securities fraud and sentenced to prison in a separate case in November 2010.  Furman is further alleged to have assisted Gushlak in concealing the proceeds of unlawful EERT sales in order to hide assets from state and federal authorities.  Ahearn and Wilson each face up to five years in prison and are slated to be sentenced on June 8, 2018.  Furman faces up to 25 years in prison and is slated to be sentenced on April 25, 2018.  Seven other defendants were previously convicted in connection with the investigation.  U.S. v. Ahearn, 17-cr-20883 (S.D. Fla.); U.S. v. Furman, 17-cr-2-713 (S.D. Fla.)

DOJ Press Release