Former Executives of Defunct Tampa Technology Company Indicted for Investment Fraud
TAMPA, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the unsealing of an indictment charging Timothy Munro Roberts (45, Chesterfield, Missouri) and Terrance F. Taylor (49, Ft. Myers) with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The indictment also notifies Roberts and Taylor that the United States intends to forfeit approximately $5.3 million, which is alleged to be traceable to the proceeds of the offenses.
According to court documents, in 2010, Roberts and Taylor founded Savtira Corporation Inc., located at 2101 E. Palm Avenue in Tampa. According to its business plan, Savtira purported to offer a centralized, cloud-based shopping cart platform for online and traditional retailers to sell goods, regardless of the device used by the online purchaser.
According to court documents, as CEO and Chairman of the Board, Roberts solicited investors for Savtira. He had control over the company’s funds and was responsible for overseeing the sale of Savtira’s products to potential customers. Taylor was the Executive Vice President of Finance and Treasurer of Savtira. He had control over the company’s funds and participated in the solicitation of investors. Taylor also oversaw the company’s bank accounts, books, and records.
The indictment alleges that Roberts and Taylor made false claims in their marketing of Savtira to potential investors. They maintained that the company was profitable; the company had entered into executed agreements with nationally recognized legitimate technology firms; the company owned patents; and/or that the company was valued between $450 million and $540 million. Roberts and Taylor then misused and misappropriated some of the victim-investors’ funds for personal expenses and cash withdrawals without the consent or knowledge of those investors.
Roberts and Taylor also failed to disclose key facts to investors, including that Roberts had entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008, which required Roberts to pay a fine and banned him from selling unregistered securities. In addition, he failed to disclose the fact that Savtira owned no patents.
The indictment also alleges that Roberts and Taylor entered into a few contracts on behalf of Savtira with victim-customers promising to provide cloud-based eCommerce solutions. They entered into these contracts knowing Savtira never had a working product, and they could never deliver on the contracts. To make it appear as if Savtira had multi-million dollar future revenues, they also entered into bogus contracts and generated fake invoices and accounts receivable for the purpose of falsely bolstering the company’s value and factoring the invoices for cash.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Bureau of Financial Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.
In a separate action, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a complaint against Roberts, Taylor, and one other individual alleging they defrauded investors by grossly exaggerating the potential financial success of Savtira.