Florida man pleads guilty in securities fraud scheme

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A man from Boca Raton, Florida waived his right to be indicted and pled guilty on Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to conspiracy and tax offenses stemming from his role in a securities fraud scheme.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, confirmed through court records showing that between approximately 2010 and July 2016 William Lieberman conspired with others, including Christian Meissenn of Connecticut, defrauded investors through a stock ‘pump and dump’ scheme.

Lieberman induced investors to purchase securities by making false and misleading representations in calls, emails and press releases concerning the securities and the issuing companies, causing the price of those securities to become falsely inflated.

The issuing companies included Terra Energy Resources Ltd. (stock symbol TRRE); Mammoth Energy Group, Inc. (MMTE), a company that later became Strategic Asset Leasing Inc. (LEAS); Trilliant Exploration Corporation (TTXP); Hermes Jets, Inc. (HRMJ), which later became Continental Beverage Brands Corporation (CBBB); Dolat Ventures, Inc. (DOLV), and Fox Petroleum, Inc. (FXPT).

At various times, Lieberman served as the Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Board, President, Secretary, and Treasurer of Mammoth Energy Group, Inc.; the President, Chief Executive officer, and Chairman of the Board of Strategic Asset Leasing Inc.; the President, Chief Accounting Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Secretary, and Treasurer of Fox Petroleum, Inc.; and the Chief Executive Officer, President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Chief Financial Officer of Trilliant Exploration Corporation.

In his capacity as an officer of certain of these issuing companies, Lieberman, working with others, issued false and misleading press releases concerning the financial health and prospects of the companies.  He also was aware that co-conspirators were making false and misleading statements to promote the sale of these securities.

As part of the scheme, Lieberman arranged for attorneys, including Corey Brinson of Connecticut, to sign false and misleading opinion letters that were designed to provide assurances to securities transfer agents and prospective investors, according to officials.  At times, he affixed attorneys’ signatures to the opinion letters.  The opinion letters falsely certified that the attorneys had adequately reviewed corporate records and filings for the issuing companies and were satisfied with the adequacy of the companies’ public disclosures.

Lieberman and his co-conspirators also conducted matched or coordinated trades of securities amongst themselves or in large blocks at predetermined prices, in order to artificially boost the trading volume of the securities, create the appearance of liquidity, and falsely drive up the share price.

After selling their own shares at a profit, the conspirators allowed the price of the securities to fall, leaving investors with worthless and unsalable stock.  As a result, victim investors lost at least $3.5 million.

Between 2011 and 2015, Lieberman earned nearly $1.2 million through this scheme. He failed to report this income to the Internal Revenue Service, evading $436,235 in federal income taxes for the 2011 through 2015 tax years.

Lieberman pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

At sentencing, Lieberman will be ordered to pay restitution to his victims, as well as back taxes, interest and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service. A date for sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

On November 8, 2016, Meissenn pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.  He awaits sentencing.

On January 20, 2017, Brinson pled guilty to one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in property derived from specified unlawful activity.  On April 13, 2017, he was sentenced to 36 months of prison.

People with information that may be helpful to this ongoing investigation, or who believe they may have been victimized by this scheme, are encouraged to contact the FBI at (203) 777-6311.