According to a Justice Department Release, Gerald Cocuzzo pleaded guilty to securities fraud for his role in a $131 million market manipulation scheme.
The former Newbridge Securities broker, Gerald Cocuzzo, 37, pleaded guilty in federal court in the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday in connection with the fraudulent market manipulation of ForceField Energy Inc., a publicly-traded company listed on the Nasdaq (FNRG).
We first told you about this scheme in August (see Staten Island Broker Pleads Guilty in $131 million Scheme) when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced fraud charges against 10 individuals including Naveed (aka Nick) Khan.
Between January 2009 and April 2015, Cocuzzo and others, allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in ForceField, a purported worldwide distributor and provider of LED lighting products, by artificially controlling the price and volume of traded shares of the company, according to a Justice Department release.
Purportedly, a ForceField executive paid kickbacks to Cocuzzo in exchange for his purchase of ForceField stock in his clients’ brokerage accounts, according to the Justice Department. Mr. Cocuzzo allegedly did not disclose to his clients the kickbacks he was receiving for purchasing ForceField stock.
Cocuzzo and his co-conspirators allegedly tried to hide their participation in the fraudulent scheme by using prepaid, disposable cellular telephones and encrypted, content-expiring messaging applications to communicate with each other, and by paying kickbacks in cash, according to the Justice Department.
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.
From January 2009 until January 2015, Cocuzzo was registered with IAA Financial, Boca Raton FL which had previously been called CBG Financial Group Inc., according to BrokerCheck. That firm has since closed. In addition, Cocuzzo has nine customer disputes listed on his Broker Check that include allegations of unsuitability, over-concentration, and negligent supervision.
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, LLC is a national securities fraud, securities arbitration, investor protection, and securities regulation/compliance law firm with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Franklin, Tennessee.
For more information on The White Law Group and its representation of investors in FINRA arbitration claims, visit https://www.whitesecuritieslaw.com.