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SEC Says Securities Crook Just Won’t Stop

MIAMI (CN) - A Miami securities recidivist defrauded investors, many of them senior citizens, of $8.7 million in supposed real estate-backed offerings, the SEC claims in court.

Defendant Robert J. Vitale, 42, "is an inmate housed in the Miami Federal Detention Center in Miami, Florida, where he is serving a two-year sentence for perjury and obstruction in the investigation giving rise to the filing of this action," the SEC says in the complaint.

It also sued his company Realty Acquisitions and Trust Inc., or RATI, and relief defendant Coral Springs Investment Group.

The complaint states: "Between 2004 and 2010, Vitale and RATI solicited and raised at least $8.7 million from investors in connection with four real estate securities offerings of RATI, a South Florida based private company that Vitale established. In connection with these securities offerings, Vitale and RATI made numerous materially false and misleading statements and omissions concerning, among other things: the credentials and experience of Vitale and other purported RATI officers; Vitale's supposed reputation for honesty in the investment world; the safety of investing in RATI; and the ownership of the properties purchased with RATI investor proceeds."

Among the peccadilloes of this caper, the SEC said in a statement, was telling investors that their money was "100 percent protected," though it was not, and claiming to be "a financial expert with a business degree from Notre Dame when he never attended college after graduating from Notre Dame High School in West Haven, Conn."

Vitale told his suckers that his success "rested on his 'great honesty and integrity,'" but he neglected to tell them that the SEC charged him in 2004 with participating in a pump-and-dump market manipulation scheme or that he settled the charges and was barred from the brokerage industry, the SEC says.

The SEC seeks disgorgement, fines, and an injunction.

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