Gerald Cocuzzo Sentenced in ForceField Energy Market Manipulation Scheme
Former broker Gerald Cocuzzo, who pleaded guilty to securities fraud in November 2016, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday, according to the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors alleged Cocuzzo was part of a $131 million scheme to defraud investors in the LED lighting company ForceField Energy, a publicly-traded company listed on the Nasdaq (FNRG), by controlling the price and volume of its shares.
According to various reports, Cocuzzo helped manipulate stock prices by orchestrating trades to appear as genuine trading volume, and making secret payments to promoters and broker dealers to sell the company’s stock, among other schemes. Prosecutors said the scheme caused a loss of approximately $131 million to the investing public.
We first told you about this scheme in August 2016 (see Staten Island Broker Pleads Guilty in $131 million Scheme) when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced fraud charges against 10 individuals including Gerald Cocuzzo and Naveed (aka Nick) Khan.
According to FINRA Broker Check, Cocuzzo was registered with Newbridge Securities in Boca Raton, FL from December 2014 to May 2016, when he was discharged after the federal indictment was revealed. Cocuzzo has nine customer disputes listed on his Broker Check that include allegations of unsuitability, over-concentration, and negligent supervision.
Cocuzzo’s sentencing is the third so far in the ForceField fraud investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Six other defendants, including five who have pleaded guilty and one convicted, are awaiting sentencing.
Recovery of Investment Losses in ForceField Energy
The White Law Group is investigating the liability that Cocuzzo’s employers may have for losses sustained by his clients. Brokerage firms are required to supervise their advisors to ensure that they are complying with FINRA rules.
If it can be determined that Cocuzzo violated FINRA rules and his employers failed to adequately supervise him, these firms can be held responsible for any resulting losses in a FINRA arbitration claim.
For a free consultation with a securities attorney, please call The White Law Group at 888-637-5510.
The White Law Group is a national securities fraud, securities arbitration, and investor protection law firm with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Vero Beach, Florida.
For more information on The White Law Group and its representation of investors in FINRA arbitration claims, visit http://www.whitesecuritieslaw.com.