Thursday, June 1, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

SEC Rounds Up Penny Stock Promoters

MIAMI (CN) - More than a dozen penny stock promoters and their companies - including a former star of the TV show "CHiPs" - were charged with using kickbacks and other schemes to manipulate the volume and price of stocks and illegally generate stock sales. Larry Wilcox, who played CHP Officer Jon Baker on "CHiPs," is one of those charged with securities fraud.

Wilcox, of West Hills, Calif., and his company, The UC Hub Group, were charged along with Anthony Mellone of Fort Lauderdale, who was CEO of Tri-Star Holdings nka Macada Holdings; and Alex Parsinia, of Calabasas, and his company Zcom Networks.

Mellone "began the process by paying an illegal kickback to a purported employee pension fund trustee who was to purchase 40 million restricted shares of Tri-Star stock," the SEC said in announcing the roundup. "Days later, Mellone paid another kickback for a purchase of 50 million restricted shares of stock. Unbeknownst to Mellone, the corrupt trustee and the trustee's business associate were undercover FBI agents, and another middleman was an FBI cooperating witness. Mellone, satisfied how the deal worked for his own company, sought to implement the same fraud with others."

Undercover FBI agents were involved in all of the stings.

Charged in accompanying federal complaints were Jean Charbit, a French citizen who lives in Miami, and Tzemach David Netzer Korem, who uses several aliases and is believed to live in Los Altos, Calif. "He also created a fictitious country, the Dominion of Melchizedek, which claims 'ecclesiastical sovereignty' on an island in the South Pacific and has been the subject of criminal prosecutions in several countries," the SEC said.

Also charged were Scott R. Sand, of Calimesa, Calif., the CEO of Ingen Technologies; Jeffrey Galpern, a Boca Raton, Fla., stock promoter; Bruce Palmer and his company, AccessKey IP, of Placitas, N.M.; and John "Buckeye" Epstein and Steven E. Humphries, executives at Texas-based Earthworks Entertainment and The Flight Zone.

The SEC seeks disgorgement plus interest, financial penalties and injunctions against all of them.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.