Former Stock Promoter and Attorney Arrested in Securities Fraud Conspiracy
Defendants Allegedly Deceived Potential Investors about ConnectAJet.com
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 19, 2013|
DALLAS—Former stock promoter Jason Wynn and Attorney Martin Cantu were arrested this week by special agents with the FBI on charges outlined in a federal indictment, returned on September 11, 2013, and unsealed today, which charges each of them with offenses related a stock fraud scheme they ran involving a company known as ConnectAJet.com. Cantu was arrested on Wednesday, made his initial appearance yesterday in federal court, and was released on bond. Wynn was arrested this morning and is scheduled to appear this afternoon at 2:00, for his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge David L. Horan. Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
ConnectAJet.com Inc. (CAJT) was a company that purportedly would provide the first online, real-time booking system for private jet charters. Essentially, it would serve the same function as other well-known online booking systems but would focus on high-end chartered aircraft. Wynn, who worked as a penny-stock promoter, used-car salesman, and consultant, partnered with Cantu to build and market the idea into a profitable business. Cantu owned the majority of shares of CAJT.
The indictment alleges that from approximately May to October 2007, Wynn, 31, and Cantu, 56, conspired with each other and others to commit securities fraud by deceiving potential investors regarding CAJT. As part of their scheme, Wynn and Cantu caused public statements and advertisements to be issued that included numerous false and misleading statements about the progress and status of the company’s real-time booking system; CAJT’s relationships with reputable companies; and CAJT’s customer base. The false and misleading statements led investors to believe CAJT’s online booking system was complete, when, in fact, it never was developed past the initial concept. The false and misleading statements also led investors to believe that the company had achieved operational success it had not achieved. These false and misleading statements increased demand for CAJT shares, which allowed Wynn, Cantu, and others to sell their CAJT shares at artificially inflated prices.
The indictment names co-conspirator Ryan Reynolds, a former stock broker, who pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to conspiracy to commit securities fraud, based on his involvement in the CAJT conspiracy.
From August 2007 through January 2008, entities controlled by Wynn sold 4.2 million CAJT shares in the public market, resulting in profits of $2.585 million. During the approximate two-month time frame of August to October 2007, Cantu realized $548,881 in profits from the sale of 250,000 CAJT shares he controlled.
The indictment charges each defendant with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one substantive count of securities fraud. A federal indictment is an accusation by a grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, the maximum statutory penalties are five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy count and 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine for the securities fraud count. In addition, restitution could also be ordered.
Today’s announcement is related to efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including
The case is being investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys P. J. Meitl and J. Nicholas Bunch are in charge of the prosecution.