Four Charged in NFL-Related Securities Fraud Scheme Targeting Senior Citizens
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced that Peter D. Kirschner, 49, of Delray Beach, Stuart R. Rubens, 61, of North Miami, Dean R. Baker, 34, of Coral Springs, and Bret A. Grove, 35, of Delray Beach, were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and substantive mail fraud. The four men are charged for allegedly operating call rooms targeting senior citizens and tricking them into purchasing $2.4 million in stock.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Securities fraud jeopardizes the well-being of our citizens. The defendants in this case are alleged to have raised approximately $2.4 million by targeting the elderly and representing that they had technology that was about to be used by the NFL. In truth, there was no such arrangement. Today’s charges are the first step in holding them accountable for robbing these elderly folks of their hard-earned savings for their own personal gain.”
“Those charged today materially misrepresented investments to a vulnerable part of our population,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office. “The FBI will continue to prioritize investigations of investment fraud perpetrators who target the elderly.”
According to the indictment and related Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) civil complaints, the defendants pressured seniors and other investors into purchasing stock in Thought Development Inc. (TDI), a Miami Beach-based company that claimed its signature invention generated a green laser line on the football field visible in the stadium to players, fans as well as on television. TDI represented that use of its technology would decrease the time used by officials to determine first downs, freeing up broadcast time that could then be sold to television advertisers. The defendants raised approximately $2.4 million through the use of call rooms that targeted more than 200 investors throughout the nation, who were told that an initial public offering (IPO) in TDI was imminent and that their money would be safe and used to develop the ground-breaking technology. Instead, the indictment alleges that the IPO was not forthcoming as promised, and at least 50 percent of the offering proceeds were retained by the defendants or paid to sales agents through undisclosed, exorbitant commissions and fees. The defendants also lured investors by misrepresenting that TDI’s technology was about to be used by the NFL. One investor even made a second $75,000 investment on top of an initial $2,500 investment after being told that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell purchased TDI’s technology for use in the 2013 Super Bowl. In fact, there was no such arrangement. The defendants also neglected to tell investors the TDI laser technology posed a potential risk of blindness to players on the football field.
The SEC recently announced similar civil charges against Baker and Grove, filed today in federal district court in Miami. This brings to six the number of individuals charged criminally with this scheme. The U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California charged Daniel Baker and Demosthenes Dritsas with mail fraud stemming from this investigation, both of whom recently pled guilty.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the SEC. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Cruz.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.