For Release: July 8, 2003
THE U.S. COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION PREVAILS AGAINST FLORIDA RESIDENTS AND THEIR THREE COMPANIES
Court Orders Defendants Bernard Sevilla, Staci Petok, Jack Pomeroy, First Bristol Group, Inc., Alliance Equity Group, Inc., and Great Minster Group, Inc., to Repay More Than $450,000 to Investors and to Pay Contingent Civil Penalties Totaling $1,920,000 for Fraud Claims
WASHINGTON, D.C. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced that the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has issued orders of permanent injunction imposing civil penalties, customer repayment obligations, and other sanctions against defendants Bernard Sevilla of Hollywood, Florida and his two companies, Alliance Equity Group, Inc. and the Great Minster Group, Inc.; Staci Petok of Boca Raton, Florida and her company, First Bristol Group, Inc.; and Jack Pomeroy of Hollywood, Florida.
The orders settle charges against six of the eight defendants in CFTC v. First Bristol, et al. (see CFTC News Release 4691-02, August 29, 2002.) Previously, the court granted the CFTC’s request to enter orders against the other two defendants, Michael Biggs of Hollywood, Florida and his company, Centurion Financial Group, Inc., and on March 25, 2003, directed them to pay $362,533 to defrauded customers and imposed on them civil penalties totaling $960,000.
The CFTC’s complaint alleged that the defendants fraudulently solicited customers to purchase illegal off-exchange foreign currency options and futures contracts and misappropriated those funds for personal expenses. According to the complaint, the defendants misrepresented the profits and risks involved in foreign currency trading and -- after receiving customer funds and misappropriating those funds -- provided customers with false account statements to hide their fraud.
The orders require the defendants to repay defrauded customers $456,227 and to pay contingent civil penalties totaling $1,920,000, after they have repaid investors in full. The court’s orders enjoin the defendants from further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, as alleged in the complaint, and permanently prohibit them from trading commodity futures contracts or options on commodity futures contracts, and from seeking registration with the CFTC, or acting in any capacity requiring CFTC registration.
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation and the Office of the State’s Attorney provided invaluable assistance to the CFTC in its investigation and litigation of this case. Sevilla, Petok, Pomeroy, and Biggs each were charged with criminal fraud and are awaiting trial.
The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff were responsible for this case: Gretchen Lowe, Elizabeth Padgett, Terry Montgomery, and Richard Foelber
A copy of the CFTC complaint and consent order may be obtained at www.cftc.gov.
Media Enforcement Contact:
Gretchen Lowe, Associate Director
CFTC Division of Enforcement
# # #