The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Los Angeles man in a municipal bond fraud.
On Wednesday the SEC announced that it had obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of a Los Angeles man orchestrating a securities fraud by falsely presenting himself to investors as a specialist in municipal bonds.
The SEC alleged that Michael Anthony Gonzalez raised approximately $1 million since February 2010 by telling investors he would invest their money in tax-exempt munis. Gonzalez told investors that the bonds were insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).
In reality, Gonzalez never purchased the bonds and instead deposited the investors’ money into his bank account for personal use.
Gonzalez later attempted to conceal the scheme by providing investors with phony confirmation statements.
“Gonzalez lied to investors and went to great lengths to conceal his fraud,” said Michele Wein Layne, associate regional director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Gonzalez falsely told investors that he was associated with New York-based broker-dealer May Capital Group LLC in order to portray himself as a legitimate money manager. Gonzalez had no dealings with May Capital. However, through his false statements he succeeded in convincing investors that their investments were insured and safe. Gonzalez also provided investors with phony trade confirmations that identified securities that were either not purchased or nonexistent.
United States District Judge S. James Otero has granted the SEC’s request for a temporary restraining order against Gonzalez and issued orders freezing his assets, requiring accountings, prohibiting the destruction of documents, and granting expedited discovery. The court will hold a hearing on the SEC’s motion for a preliminary injunction on May 25.
The SEC complaint charged Gonzalez with violating the antifraud provisions and the broker-dealer registration provisions of federal securities laws.
In addition to the emergency relief, the SEC’s complaint sought preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and financial penalties against Gonzalez.