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Anthony has a broad array of experiences assisting with compliance issues, regulatory and enforcement matters, internal investigations, and individual and class litigation. His diverse practice helps him achieve the most efficient and practical results for his clients spanning the financial services, technology, automobile, and retail sectors.

Securities Exchange Commission v. David J. Bunevacz et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on April 5, 2022, seeking an injunctive relief, disgorgement, and civil penalties. Specifically, the complaint alleges violations of federal securities laws, including Sections 10(b) and 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Sections 17(a), 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act of 1933.

The SEC brought this enforcement action against David J. Bunevacz (“Bunevacz”) and two entities under his control, Caesarbrutus LLC and CB Holding Group Corp., along with his stepdaughter Mary Hayca Bunevacz (“Mary Hayca”).  Bunevacz and his entities are engaged in the production and sale of cannabis products, particularly “vape” pens infused with Cannabidiol (“CBD”).

Continue Reading New Complaint – SEC v. David J. Bunevacz et al.

Backed by unrealistically ambitious owners, well-intentioned business ideas that fail to meet expectations or become unsustainable regrettably often become full-fledged Ponzi schemes.  Today’s Growth Consultant, Inc. (“TGC”) represents an entity that faced the same fate.

TGC advertised to potential investors its expertise in building, acquiring, and monetizing online websites.  Investors paid an upfront fee to TGC to purchase, host, maintain, and market the investors’ websites in exchange for TGC’s guarantee that investors would receive a minimum rate of return in perpetuity on the revenues TGC generated from those websites.  TGC raised at least $75 million during a nearly three year period, but its business model proved unsuccessful—it failed to timely purchase and build the promised websites or generate the promised revenue to cover the guaranteed returns to investors.  Instead, TGC turned into a Ponzi scheme to sustain its failing business by paying early investors with money it raised from later investors.

TGC maintained its business bank accounts at Defendants Heartland Bank and Trust Company (“Heartland”) and PNC Bank, N.A. (“PNC”) (collectively, “Defendants”).  TGC banked with Heartland until October 2018, and with PNC thereafter until December 2019.  Defendants provided TGC with typical banking services, including deposit accounts, commercial loans and revolving lines of credit, ACH capabilities, and transfers into, out of, and among TGC’s accounts.

In a recent decision in PLB Investments LLC et al. v. Heartland Bank and Trust Co. et al., the Northern District of Illinois decided that various defrauded investors of TGC (“Plaintiffs”) did not set forth sufficient allegations to show actual knowledge of a Ponzi scheme or bad faith in support of various Illinois state law claims against PNC.  No. 20 C 1023, 2021 WL 5937152 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 15, 2021).  While different jurisdictions set varying thresholds for adequately alleging actual knowledge or bad faith, PLB Investments emphasizes the importance of analyzing these elements early on to determine whether a plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts on the pleadings.

Continue Reading Illinois Federal Court Carves Up Plaintiffs’ Ponzi Scheme Claims For Lack of Actual Knowledge or Bad Faith

Puleo, et al. v. Nelson, et al. was filed in the Central District of California on August 10, 2021, seeking damages based on more than thirty claims for violation of various state and federal securities laws, elder financial abuse, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with a real estate Ponzi scheme.

Plaintiffs are numerous individual and trustee investors who invested in student housing projects either as individuals, through their business enterprises, or as trustees of trusts.  Defendants are Nelson Partners, a California limited liability company that sponsored the offering of the real estate interests, Patrick Nelson as the sole owner, president, and chief executive officer of Nelson Partners (collectively, “Nelson Partners”), Axonic Capital LLC, a hedge fund (“Axonic”), and various other individual and corporate investment advisors and funds affiliated with Nelson Partners and Axonic.

Continue Reading New Complaint – Puleo, et al. v. Nelson, et al.

IMG Memorial Fund 1 was filed in the Southern District of New York on April 14, 2021, alleging that various defendants, including individuals and investment funds, violated federal securities laws and the common law through their use of a proprietary trading platform.  Specifically, the complaint alleges violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Act, along with common law claims for breach of fiduciary duty and negligent misrepresentation.

Plaintiff IMG Memorial Fund 1 is a family investment fund.  Defendant Jeffrey Spotts is the principal individual who created various investment funds, including the Prophecy Special Opportunities Fund and Prophecy Special Ops GP LLC (collectively, “Prophecy”).  Defendant Vantage Consulting Group is an investment advisor with an ownership interest in defendant investment fund First Landing Fund LLC, which is co-controlled by individual defendants, Mark Finn and David Schippers (collectively, “First Landing”).

Continue Reading New Complaint – IMG Memorial Fund 1, LLC v. First Landing Fund, LLC, et al.