As the securities industry watchdog, FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), continues to try to find ways of policy repeat offenders of securities fraud, news broke this week that a Greater Philadelphia stockbroker with two prior securities related convictions was booked - again.
According to the press release issued by the US Attorney's Office, former Wayne, Pennsylvania stockbroker Howard M. Appel was charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Appel was apparently caught secretly acquiring large blocks of stock in publicly traded companies in an attempt to manipulate the market. For that, the US attorney slapped him with one count of conspiracy.
Philadelphia Stockbroker Made Coordinated Effort to Manipulate Stock Prices
Previously, Appel had been barred by FINRA from selling securities to investors and from working for or associating with any member firm. Undeterred by his ban, the Pennsylvania former stock broker Appel allegedly acquired shares of companies using the names of nominees. He purchased large blocks of stock in Virtual Piggy Inc. and Red Mountain Resources Inc.
According to the release, Appel had some help in executing his nefarious plans from co-conspirators. Together, the group colluded in buying and selling large shares of the company stocks and trading on inside information. By coordinating their trading patterns, the co-conspirators were able to use leverage to impact the publicly traded companies' prices.
Adding insult to injury, Appel and his crew also allegedly promoted to unwitting investors the very same companies whose stock price they were trying to drive ever-downward. Finally, Appel sought to control his fellow fraudsters by preventing them from selling their own shares without his permission.
Prosecutors claim that Appel earned more than $3 million in the scheme. He now faces incarceration, supervised release, and hefty fines.
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