Three California men have received sentencing for their roles in a cannabidiol (CBD) company stock manipulation scheme.
The three men attempted to boost the stock price of a shell CBD company through the use of false press releases that made it appear as if the business was doing well.
First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams on Thursday, September 24 announced that 49-year-old Chip Hackley of Hermosa Beach and 51-year-old George Matin of Los Angeles had been sentenced to 15 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy, wire fraud, and securities fraud.
On September 16, United States District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond sentenced co-conspirator, 81-year-old Harold Minskey of Northridge, to one year and one day in prison, and two years of supervised release.
According to the Department of Justice, Hackley joined the scheme later and only participated in the manipulation of Holy Grail.
To manipulate company stocks and control the timing, volume, and price of trades, the trio acquired and established control over the restricted and free trading shares, coordinating press releases with the stock promotions to give a false impression of market interest.
They also agreed to prearranged stock trades and purchaser bribes.
The trio also agreed to give an initial 40 percent cut to the fake press release writer, who ended up cooperating with the FBI.
“Innocent individuals who try to legitimately invest and save money for the future are the ones who lose big when greedy fraudsters like Minsky, Matin and Hackley manipulate the markets with pump an dump stock schemes,” said Williams. “Market manipulation also causes our economy to take a hit because the public cannot trust that the markets are free and fair. Thanks to the excellent work of the FBI, SEC, and prosecutors from this Office, these defendants’ days of profiting off of others’ misfortune are over.”
By manipulating WGE and Holy Grail stock, Minsky and Matin planned to illegally generate approximately $9 million in proceeds and cause corresponding losses to victims of the conspiracy.
Hackley intended to generate approximately $4 million through the scheme.
Minskey pleaded guilty on May 2, 2019, Hackley pleaded guilty on May 15, 2019, and Matin pleaded guilty on October 10, 2019.