Story Series: 1 Global Capital
Andrew Dale Ledbetter, a veteran securities attorney who once co-authored a book called How Wall Street Rips You Off – and what you can do to defend yourself, now stands accused of ripping investors off.
Ledbetter was criminally charged on Tuesday by the US Attorney’s office in South Florida for his alleged role in the 1 Global Capital Securities fraud case. Ledbetter was formally accused of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Securities Fraud. He was simultaneously hit with civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Both agencies say that Ledbetter reaped nearly $3 million in referral fees from 1 Global Capital in exchange for raising nearly $100 million from investors, mostly retirees, all while making knowingly false statements and misrepresentations about the investments. For instance, they say that he knew the investments were securities but claimed they weren’t anyway. Similar circumstances brought down Florida attorney Jan Douglas Atlas last year. Ledbetter had been compensating Atlas on the side as part of the alleged scheme.
Ledbetter is the 4th individual to be criminally charged in connection with the 1 Global Capital case. The other three: Atlas, Alan G. Heide, and Steven Schwartz, have all already pled guilty.
Alan Heide, the former CFO of defunct Hallandale Beach-based 1 Global Capital, was sentenced to 5 years in prison earlier this week for his role in the company’s securities fraud. He is one of three individuals that have pled guilty so far and the first to be sentenced.
The other individuals, attorney Jan Douglas Atlas and former 1 Global COO Steven Allen Schwartz are awaiting their sentencing.
Additional individuals are still expected to be charged.
Federal prosecutors have asked a Court to consolidate criminal cases against 1 Global Capital defendants Alan Heide and Jan D. Atlas on the basis that there is substantial overlap between them and that additional individuals are expected to be charged. “Considerable judicial resources may be conserved if, going forward, a single judge is chosen to preside over all 1 Global-related cases,” prosecutors argue. The number of forthcoming defendants was not revealed but has been described as “multiple additional co-conspirators.”
The case, far from over, is being characterized as an active investigation.
Heide, 1 Global’s former CFO, pled guilty on August 23, 2019. He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 18th. Atlas, an attorney who provided fraudulent legal cover for 1 Global via knowingly false opinion letters, pled guilty to 1 count of securities fraud in October. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 10th.
Hallandale Beach-based 1 Global Capital was once ranked among the largest alternative small business funders by deBanked. That all changed in July 2018 with a sudden bankruptcy filing that revealed concurrent investigations being carried out by the SEC and a US Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors are calling the company a multi-faceted securities fraud and Ponzi scheme that victimized at least 3,600 investors across the country. While the company took in more than $330 million, $100 million of it is expected to be returned to investors through a bankruptcy court liquidation.
The company’s former chairman and CEO has already consented to judgment with the SEC and agreed to be liable for disgorgement of $32,587,166 + $1,517,273 in interest and a civil penalty of $15,000,000. Shortly thereafter, the SEC reported that he had satisfied the judgment in full with the exception of the stipulation that he sell his condo. Although he has not been criminally charged, prosecutors say that Heide and Atlas both ultimately took direction from, and reported to the company’s former chairman and CEO.
Individuals familiar with the firm may recall that 1 Global Capital was previously reported as being named 1st Global Capital. However, another company bearing the same name sued them for trademark infringment. Since then, news related to the South Florida ponzi scheme have referred to the company by its legal name, 1 Global Capital, LLC.
Jan Douglas Atlas, a Florida attorney that was arrested last month for his role in the 1 Global Capital debacle, entered a plea of guilty on Wednesday to 1 count of securities fraud. 74-year-old Atlas also agreed to be disbarred.
The charges stem from his willingness to sign an opinion letter that claimed investment opportunities being offered by 1 Global were not securities when he knew that they actually were.
1 Global collapsed last year amid investigations by the SEC and US Attorney’s office and the discovery of a massive discrepancy in the company’s accounting records. Atlas is the 2nd person to be criminally convicted. 1 Global’s chairman consented to judgment with the SEC but has not been criminally charged. Court records indicate he has already satisfied the vast majority of the SEC’s judgment.
The set of facts established by prosecutors and Atlas in his guilty plea suggest that additional individuals could still be criminally charged.
Another individual has been criminally charged in connection with the 1 Global Capital securities case. 74-year-old Jan Douglas Atlas, a securities attorney, was charged with 1 count of securities fraud by the US Attorney in South Florida on Tuesday for authoring opinion letters in 2016 that falsely described that the investments were not securities nor subject to federal securities laws or registration requirements.
The charges allege that Atlas “came to understand” that individuals representing 1 Global were not interested in accurate legal advice based on real facts and that they instead wanted false legal cover that would advance the desired outcome to continue to profit from 1 Global. He allegedly made false and misleading statements despite knowing the true nature of how the investments worked and that they were in fact securities as defined under federal securities laws.
“Atlas’s opinion letters were used and relied upon by 1 Global employees and agents to continue to raise money illegally,” the Department of Justice said in an announcement.
Atlas was also compensated by receiving a percentage of the commissions generated from the fundraising scheme to the tune of $627,000 paid to his personal checking account. These payments were not disclosed to his employer, Kopelowitz Ostrow, as required.
Atlas was also separately charged by the SEC.
His employer was not charged with any wrongdoing in either action. Atlas was previously listed as a partner at the firm but is no longer on the firm’s website.
Atlas is the second individual to be criminally charged in connection with 1 Global Capital. The first individual, Alan Heide, who served as 1 Global Capital’s CFO, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 12th.
Update: Alan Heide has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
The former CFO of 1 Global Capital, Alan Heide, was stacked with bad news on Thursday. The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida lodged criminal charges against him at the same time the Securities & Exchange Commission announced a civil suit for defrauding retail investors.
Heide was criminally charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
According to the criminal complaint:
It was a purpose of the conspiracy for the defendant and his conspirators to use false and fraudulent statements to investors concerning the operation and profitability of 1 Global, so that investors would provide funds to 1 Global, and continue to make false statements to investors thereafter so that investors would not seek to withdraw funds from 1 Global, all so that the conspirators could misappropriate investors’ funds for their personal use and enjoyment.
He is facing a maximum of 5 years in prison.
1 Global Capital CEO Carl Ruderman, who recently consented to judgment with the SEC, has not been charged criminally to-date. However, he is mentioned throughout the pleading against Heide as “Individual #1 who acted as the CEO of 1 Global.”
Civil charges were simultaneously lodged by the SEC.
According to the SEC’s complaint:
Although 1 Global promised investors profits from its short-term merchant cash advances to businesses, the company used substantial investor funds for other purposes, including paying operating expenses and funding Ruderman’s lavish lifestyle. The SEC alleges that Heide, a certified public accountant, for nine months regularly signed investors’ monthly account statements that he knew overstated the value of their accounts and falsely represented that 1 Global had an independent auditor that had endorsed the company’s method of calculating investor returns.
According to an SEC statement, Heide agreed to settle the SEC’s charges as to liability, without admitting or denying the allegations, and agreed to be subject to an injunction, with the court to determine the penalty amount at a later date.
1 Global Capital filed for bankruptcy last year after investigations by the SEC and US Attorney’s Office hampered their ability to raise capital. Ruderman’s recent settlement with the SEC put him on the hook for $50 million to repay investors.
Update 10/4/19: According to the docket, Ruderman has satisfied the judgment in full, with only the sale of his condo remaining.
The SEC’s lawsuit against Carl Ruderman, the former CEO of Hallandale Beach-based 1 Global Capital, has come to an end. He has consented to judgment in a settlement and the penalties are devastating, papers filed on friday with the Court show.
Specifically, Ruderman is liable for disgorgement of $32,587,166 representing profits gained as a result of the conduct alleged together with prejudgment interest on disgorgement of $1,517,273 and a civil penalty of $15,000,000. He must also sell his Condominium and disgorge 50% of the equity. Online real estate websites estimate his property to have 5 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, and be worth in the range of $5,000,000 – $6,000,000.
1 Global Capital filed for bankruptcy last year after its business was hampered by investigations being conducted by the SEC and US Attorney’s Office. The SEC brought its case against Ruderman and his company a month later and alleged that it “fraudulently raised more than $287 million from more than 3,400 investors to fund its business offering short-term financing to small and medium-size businesses.” The investments were alleged to be unregistered securities and that millions of the funds raised from investors were misappropriated by Ruderman. The settlement stipulates that he does not admit or deny the allegations.
No criminal charges have been brought to date.
The SEC settlement was technically entered into in June but had to be reviewed and approved by the five SEC commissioners.
The unopposed motion for judgment was filed last week. It was signed by the judge on Monday, August 12th.
Henry J. “Trae” Wieniewitz, III was charged by the SEC on Monday for his role in allegedly selling unregistered securities in two companies, 1 Global Capital (the now defunct merchant cash advance provider) and Woodbridge Group of Companies (a purported real estate lending business revealed to be a $1.2 billion ponzi scheme).
“Wieniewitz and Wieniewitz Financial raised more than $11.4 million and reaped approximately $500,000 in commissions from unlawful sales of Woodbridge securities, and raised more than $53 million and obtained approximately $3 million in commissions from unlawful sales of 1 Global securities,” the SEC stated.
Wieniewitz was not a registered broker-dealer nor associated with a registered broker-dealer.
A settlement was announced simultaneously. “Wieniewitz and Wieniewitz Financial settled the SEC’s charges as to liability without admitting or denying the allegations, and agreed to be subject to injunctions, with the court to determine the amounts of disgorgement, interest, and penalties at a later date,” an SEC statement said.
Separately, the owner of Woodbridge and two former directors of the company were recently charged criminally.
No criminal charges have been brought to date in the 1 Global Capital saga. That could change. 1 Global Capital revealed in 2018 that it was being investigated by the US Attorney’s office. That along with the SEC investigation prompted the company to file for bankruptcy. The SEC subsequently brought civil charges.
Documents filed in the SEC case against 1 Global’s former owner, Carl Ruderman, have since revealed that at least one former employee had been approached by the FBI about the operations of 1 Global.
Last month, it appeared Ruderman and the SEC were heading towards a settlement.
One notable fact about 1 Global Capital is that the company participated in the largest merchant cash advance in history at $40 million. That transaction has become a point of significant controversy and litigation. The recipient of those funds, a conglomerate of car dealerships in California, have shut their doors.