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May 28, 2022

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Ten indicted in N.Y., Nevada in stock scam

Ten men, including two former Las Vegans, have been indicted by federal grand juries in New York and Nevada in connection with a stock market scam that garnered more than $10 million in profits.

According to the indictments, which were unsealed Tuesday, the men hid the fact that one of them controlled almost all of certain companies' free trading securities and then sold the securities after arbitrarily setting the market price of the securities. The defendants also staggered the sales records to make it appear as though there was a demand for those companies' securities.

In New York, the men "artificially controlled" the common stock of TLC Temporary & Staffing Service Inc. and in Nevada, the men controlled the common stock of Surequest Systems Inc. and Sports Vision Technologies.

According to the indictments, the defendants made calls to investors across the country and lied to them about the true value and control of the stock to get them to buy the stock.

In the Nevada case, they told potential investors that Surequest Systems and Sports Vision Technologies had contracts with the NBA and NFL and that Sports Vision Technologies sponsored the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the indictment states. Moreover, the defendants said Surequest was going to merge with Microsoft.

The defendants received more than $8 million from the fraudulent sales of Surequest securities and more than $2 million from the sale of Sports Vision securities, the indictment states.

Those indicted in Nevada were Walter Culkin, 37, of Englishtown, N.J.; Peter Liounis, 27, of Staten Island, N.Y.; Christian Rizzo, 27, of Staten Island; Paolu Rizzuto, 24; Valadmir Shtutman, 26; Oleg Feldman, 26; and Shaun Neal, 27.

Rizzuto allegedly traveled from New York to Nevada at the request of Culkin, Rizzo and Liounis, to assault one of the participants in the Nevada scheme because he hadn't paid them, the indictment states. The man ended up with 100 stitches in his head, a broken arm and severe bruising.

Those indicted in New York were former Las Vegas residents Peter E. Berney, 52, and Robert E. Potter, 51; and Culkin, Liounis, Rizzo and Douglas Miglino, 32, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

According to the New York indictment, the men made about $428,000 after selling about 78,000 shares of TLC for between $5.25 and $5.50 per share.

Conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud carries a maximum five-year sentence while extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion carries a 20-year maximum sentence.

FBI Special Agent Kevin Caudle said all of those arrested were arrested in New York.

Also indicted Wednesday were: David Lee Matteson on 11 counts of felon in possession of firearms and ammunition; George Theodore Weisfuss on distribution of a controlled substance, money laundering and forfeiture charges; Gerardo Ibarra Herrera-Sanchez on possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possession of a firearm with an altered serial number charges, and Danny Noe Escalante on a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm. Edward Raymond Lucas was also indicted on a bank robbery charge.

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