Prosecutors File Charges in Nation's Largest Securities Fraud Crackdown

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) -- Charges were brought Wednesday against 120 people in what federal prosecutors said was the largest securities fraud crackdown in U.S. history. Among those charged were members of all five New York City organized crime families.

The far-reaching fraud stretched over five years, and never before have so many people been charged at once in such a case, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White said. She said 98 of them had been arrested by early afternoon.

Barry W. Mawn, FBI assistant director in charge of the New York office, said the investigation had "uncovered once again La Cosa Nostra's efforts to infiltrate the securities markets."

"No matter what market the mob tries to infiltrate, from the fish market to the stock market, the methods it uses are always the same: violence and the threat of violence," he said.

Richard Walker, director of enforcement of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, called the crimes "among the most egregious witnessed in recent years."

As part of the overall scheme, the Internet was sometimes used to promote stocks, and companies were falsely touted as companies to induce investors to capitalize on the Internet boom, prosecutors said.

The charges were detailed in 16 indictments and seven criminal complaints unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The schemes allegedly resulted in total losses of more than $50 million.

Among those charged in the mammoth scheme were 10 alleged members and associates of organized crime, a former New York police detective, a West Coast investment adviser, stock promoters, brokers, and officers, directors and other insiders of several companies. …