Friday, May 17, 2013

Convictions Handed Down In Securities Fraud Conspiracy That Used Ministers To Sell Stock

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri announced Wednesday that 5 defendants were convicted in federal court in a $10.2 million securities fraud conspiracy involving the use of clergy to sell shares in Petro America Corporation. Nine other plead guilty in the conspiracy. According to the press release:
The defendants used religious language in their pitches and often recruited through churches. [Defendant] Hawkins cultivated relationships with numerous ministers, whom he dubbed the Ministers Alliance. The Ministers Alliance was a group of about 15 ministers (most of whom resided in the Kansas City area) who supported and promoted Petro America. He gave them white fedora hats and millions of Petro shares, which he encouraged them to sell secretly, accepting kick-backs from the proceeds. Members of the Ministers Alliance sold Petro shares to their congregants and others. The Ministers Alliance frequently met at restaurants and participated in weekly conference calls with hundreds of investors in dozens of states.