(Hedgeco.Net) The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged convicted felon and former NHL team owner Peter H. Pocklington, his medical device company, and others with defrauding investors by hiding Pocklington’s recidivist history and by misappropriating investor funds.
The SEC alleges that in 2010, Pocklington pleaded guilty to a federal felony perjury charge and was later ordered to pay over $5 million as part of a settlement for unrelated state securities fraud and registration charges. Pocklington subsequently founded and now controls California-based The Eye Machine LLC (now known as Nova Oculus Partners LLC), a medical device company that raised over $14 million between 2014 and 2017 from more than 260 investors in unregistered offerings.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Pocklington and his attorney, Lantson E. Eldred, structured the ownership of The Eye Machine to conceal Pocklington’s role with the company and held Eldred out as the company’s “visual front.” In the offerings, Pocklington, Eldred, and The Eye Machine allegedly failed to disclose Pocklington’s checkered history and involvement, and misrepresented how investor funds would be spent. Pocklington allegedly misappropriated over $600,000 of investor funds for personal use, including funding his gold mining companies and paying personal legal and credit card bills. The complaint also alleges that The Eye Machine paid millions of dollars in undisclosed and excessive sales commissions to defendants Yolanda C. Velazquez, Vanessa Puleo, and Robert A. Vanetten, who acted as unregistered brokers for the company. According to the complaint, Velazquez – whom the SEC previously barred from acting as a broker-dealer – and Puleo used “boiler room” operations in Florida to “cold call” investors.
“Investors should know when a recidivist plays a central role in a company’s operations and offerings,” said Michele W. Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. “Investors should research the background of anyone offering an investment, but they can only do this if the offering accurately and adequately discloses the individuals involved.”