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Ex-Securities Salesman Plead Guilty

April 26, 2001 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Seven brokers from a now-defunct securities firm pleaded guilty to cheating some 16,000 customers out of more than $176 million through ``pump and dump″ schemes.

The schemes involved using high-pressure tactics to sell overpriced or worthless stock to investors. The brokers would create artificial demand for the securities, drive up the prices, then sell their own stock at a profit as the value of shares in the touted companies plummeted.

The seven, all employees of Meyers Pollock Robbins Inc., pleaded guilty minutes before their trial was to begin Wednesday.

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The securities firm was shut down by state regulators in 1997. More than 40 of its former employees have been indicted on fraud or larceny charges.

When the seven were indicted, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said that from 1992 through 1997, Meyers Pollock had pushed almost two dozen worthless stocks and lost its investors some $176 million, despite huge market increases.

Defendants Peter Falk, 32, of New York; Frank Messina, 35, of Freehold, N.J.; and John Caso, 50, of Hazlet, N.J., are to be sentenced to two to six years in prison under their plea deal. Seth Kanarick, 33, Raymond Maglione, 33, and Christopher Polisano, 28, all of New York, are to be sentenced to one to three years. And Victoria Edwards, 32, of Montauk, is to be sentenced to a year’s probation.

Five other former Meyers Pollock brokers are scheduled to go to trial in November. The firm had offices in New York, Las Vegas, and Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Fla.