The Law Office of David Liebrader has opened an investigation into sales by Cornerstone Wealth Management  (Las Vegas) of structured notes, including structured notes sold at “free seminars.”

At these seminars, which were given at restaurants in Las Vegas to seniors looking for safety of principal and retirement income, Cornerstone Wealth Management and their sales team, many of whom are licensed through Independent Financial Group pitched structured notes as being equivalent to bonds and certificates of deposit, and ideal for seniors looking to avoid stock market risk.

FINRA, which regulates the brokerage industry, has issued a notice to investors regarding the hidden risks of investing in structured notes, which are essentially derivatives, and which investor Warren Buffet famously referred to as “weapons of financial destruction.”  Among the risks identified by FINRA are the lack of liquidity, and that an investor may lose some or all of their principal on the happening of an ill-defined (and supposedly unlikely) event in the future. The Securities and Exchange Commission also published an investor alert bulletin on structured notes in 2015 warning investors of the risks of investing in these complex products.

The securities attorneys at The Law Office of David Liebrader have opened an investigation into the securities sales by Marcel Pahmer, a registered representative affiliated with Centaurus Financial Inc. and Newport Wealth Advisors.

The pending customer dispute that gives rise to this investigation concerns Marcel Pahmer’s sales of a number of high risk private placements, including Tasty Brands LP, Carter Multifamily Growth and Income Fund and GWG Holdings “L” Bonds. Mr. Pahmer recommended these illiquid, high commission investments to an elderly client who had requested investments to provide regular income with no stock market risk for her retirement.  Instead, due to an over concentration in these high risk programs, the client suffered substantial losses.

These investments, which Mr. Pahmer touted as the foundation of a retirement “income strategy” have performed badly, jeopardizing the client’s retirement; GWG Holdings L Bonds parent company filed for bankruptcy; while Tasty Brands (a pizza hut and burger king franchisee) continues to struggle with inflation and wage pressures, and Carter Multi Family reported that it was suspending distributions in October 2023.  These developments are not surprising given the excessive leverage and high costs associated with these programs.

Las Vegas based cannabis company Integrated National Resources formerly known as Weedgenics was shut down by the SEC in May, 2023. The agency accused the company and its principals Max Bergman and Patrick Williams of running a $60 million Ponzi scheme.

In court filings the SEC asked that Integrated National Resources’ fundraising activities be halted, and for a Receiver to be appointed to take control of the company’s assets and to recoup money for victims of the fraud.  The SEC’s Receiver’s website is located here, and investors can click on the link to get information on the court proceedings.

Another securities regulator (FINRA) recently barred Alexandria Bovee, a former Edward Jones registered representative, whom Integrated National Resources  investors knew as Aia Montgomery, and who was tasked by INR with persuading promissory note investors to exchange their defaulted notes for equity in INR’s unregistered securities offering.  Ms Bovee recently changed her name to Alexandria Rose Montgomery, and has also been named as a Defendant by the SEC.  Operating under an assumed name was evidently par for the course at INR, as Max Bergman’s legal name according to the SEC was Rolf Max Hirschman.

Jazzberry Digital Solutions investigation opened by The Law Office of David Liebrader

Our office has become aware of an unregistered promissory note offering by a Simi Valley based company called Jazzberry Digital Solutions, Inc. Many of the notes were sold out of an insurance agency in Bakersfield, California.

According to one investor, Jazzberry raised millions of dollars by selling unregistered promissory notes to over a hundred investors.

The Law Office of David Liebrader is pleased to report $5.3 million in recent judgments and settlements against cannabis industry companies.

With the growth of the legal cannabis industry, unscrupulous operators and scam artists have been plying their trade, luring in unsuspecting investors with promises of outsized returns.

One case involves a $1.8 million judgment obtained in the Monterey County Superior Court against Zabala Farms of Salinas; a mid-size grow operation.  The Plaintiff had invested in a Zabala affiliate that sold unregistered securities.  The State of California issued a cease and desist order against the subsidiary, which was followed by an administrative action filed by the SEC. The investor was able to use the findings to obtain two judgments, one against the affiliate, and later, a judgment against Zabala Farms of Salinas in the Monterey Superior Court.

A Clark County, Nevada judge awarded an investor $153,295 in a judgment against life coach and entrepreneur Dustin Aab on September 14, 2023.

Mr. Aab, who goes by the moniker “Dustin da Closa” on Instagram, touts himself as a wealthy entrepreneur, and his social media is replete with pictures of fancy cars, private jets and bundles of cash.

Despite these trappings of millennial luxury, he was unable to repay the Plaintiff a $65,000 loan she made to him earlier this year.

On September 7, 2021 in the Clark County Nevada District Court, Chinese businessman Patrick Sun was ordered to pay $996,572 to an investor in his Chateau Le Trois EB-5 investment program. Mr. Sun previously known as Yao Jiang, from Shanghai, China, legally changed his name from Yao Jiang to Patrick Sun in the Clark County District Court by way of a name change filing in February, 2012.  Thereafter Yao Jiang began doing business under his new name, Patrick Sun.

In 2014, Mr. Sun and his then wife Ruomei Zheng put together a plan to develop a 14 acre parcel of land in the southwest Las Vegas valley to construct a mixed use development comprised of condos, a hotel and a convention center. They called the project “Chateau Les Trois.” The plan was to attract EB-5 investors, mostly Chinese nationals, who would provide the capital for a substantial portion of the development.

Mr. Sun didn’t own the land, which was located at 8030 W. Maule Ave near the 215 Freeway and Buffalo Drive in the southwest Las Vegas valley.  Instead, Mr. Sun – through an affiliated LLC – held an option to purchase the land from a third party.  Despite a written purchase contract to acquire the land, and numerous extensions provided by the seller, Patrick Sun never acquired the land, never pursued another EB-5 project on behalf of the CLT investors, and failed to return Plaintiff’s money.

Leveraged Silver Bullion Investments: Avoiding a Bad Bet

Leveraged silver bullion investments present an unacceptable risk reward choice for investors. Due to excessive costs, interest and fees, an investor is far more likely to lose his entire investment than to break even.

With the recent rise in gold prices, salesmen in an overlooked corner of the investment community have been busy dialing investors for dollars.  The gold and silver bullion industry is largely unregulated by state or federal agencies.  This regulatory blindspot has permitted the rise of boiler rooms using high pressure sales pitches to sell overpriced gold and silver bullion to unsuspecting investors.

Virtual Communications Corporation officer Vernon Rodriguez was found liable to a group of Plaintiffs who purchased Promissory Notes from the company in 2015. In addition to Mr. Rodriguez, former CEO, and current shareholder Ronald Robinson was also found liable and, pending the issuance of a final judgment, will be ordered to compensate the Plaintiffs. The case is Hotchkiss v. Ronald Robinson and Vernon Rodriguez, filed in Clark County District Court, case # A-17-762264-C. The Court’s decision was issued on April 27, 2020.

Virtual Communications Corporation, a  Las Vegas company raised about $4 million from investors throughout the country in an unregistered securities offering.  The securities took the form of promissory notes, and were personally guaranteed by Virtual Communications Corporation’s former CEO Ronald Robinson. Plaintiffs were purchasers of these promissory notes.

The Company claimed it ran out of money in early 2015, and stopped paying the nine percent interest to investors under the notes.  Afterwards, investors began to file lawsuits in Clark County District Court against the company and the guarantor Ronald Robinson.

Zabala Farms Group LLC Managers Hit with $3.8 Million Judgment

Zabala Farms Group, LLC managers Anthony Johnson and Jeremy Johnson were found liable to an investor, and ordered to pay him $3.8 million in damages for selling unqualified securities in the form of membership interests in GPA Enterprises, LLC and Target Equity, LLC.

On October 28, 2019 Judge William Barry presiding in Dept. S302 of the Riverside Superior Court (Murrieta branch) found in favor of the Plaintiff, and against Anthony Johnson, Jeremy Johnson, GPA Enterprises LLC and Target Equity LLC. The Plaintiff filed his complaint on May 29, 2019 asserting claims for violations of the California Securities Law of 1968, including claims for selling unqualified securities and selling securities via omissions of material fact. Judgment was entered by the clerk on November 4, 2019 in the amount of $3,829,833.

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