Ex-NH securities broker indicted in Massachusetts
Federal charges involve renewable energy company stock
A former securities broker, already accused of securities fraud for allegedly scamming his Manchester girlfriend into buying a troubled entertainment stock, has been indicted in Massachusetts for pumping and dumping shares in a green energy company.
Robert J. Raffa, 56, who lives in Penacook, apparently is challenging both charges in cases that won’t go forward until early August at the soonest.
On May 4, a federal grand jury indicted Raffa, along with David J. Aubel, a Florida resident, on fraud charges for their alleged manipulation of Green Energy Renewable Solutions Inc., a waste processor and recycler of construction and demolition debris, based first in Las Vegas, Nev., then in Detroit, and traded over-the counter.
In 2012, the two defendants allegedly used four Panamanian companies to secretly acquire 6.5 million shares of the company’s stock, which amounted to 92 percent of Green Energy’s free trading shares and a quarter of its outstanding stock, without reporting their controlling interest in those companies.
They then allegedly engaged a stock promoter to send blast emails touting the stock to investors to pump the stock, with messages comparing it to Archer Daniels Midland 20 years ago and claiming that "Your $1,000 today could turn into $20,000 in 2-3 days!"
On June 26, 2012, the same day as the above email, Aubel and Raffa dumped the some of their stock, selling about 1.5 million shares for more than $900,000, the indictment said.
In a second round, the defendants encountered the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Still in control of several million shares of Green Energy stock, they approached an undisclosed Boston-based stock promoter to stabilize the stock. The promoter introduced them to an FBI agent who told them they could have access to a network of corrupt stockbrokers who would buy their shares and place them in client accounts in exchange for kickbacks, the indictment said.
New Hampshire hearing
The indictment followed similar civil fraud charges leveled by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in late April but only unsealed in early May.
The civil filing included some other details, such as a press release that stated that Green Energy purchased and began renovating a five-acre site for construction and demolition waste. In fact, aside from a rented scale, no equipment was ever placed on the site to receive waste material, and it was never intended to be used for recycling operations, the complaint alleged.
Despite this, their promotional efforts raised the price from a penny a share on June 1 to 88 cents a share on June 29.
Raffa and Aubel were arraigned in U.S District court Boston on May 25, represented by the state’s public defender’s office – which did not return calls for comment.
A federal judge ruled that the evidence is so “voluminous” that the case was continued for a status conference on Aug. 2. That’s the day after Raffa is scheduled to appear at a NH Bureau of Securities Regulation hearing in Concord.
In January, the Securities Bureau issued a cease and deist order against Raffa and proposed that Raffa pay $250,000 in fines, costs and restitution in relation to a case involving stock in StarStream Entertainment Inc., a California company that invested in several movies, most notably the 2013 film, “The Butler.”
That was the year Raffa allegedly convinced a single mother in Manchester who he was dating at the time to invest $173,000 from a $250,000 IRA account in StarStream, telling her the company was doing well when in fact it was losing money.
According to the company’s SEC filings, StarStream had no revenue in 2013 and lost $2.1 million. The filing warned that the company might not continue as a going concern and it operations in 2014.
StarStream was only registered to sell stock to “accredited” investors, meaning those with more than $1 million in assets. Raffa fraudulently filled out investment documentation stating that his girlfriend was such an investor when she was not, according to the Securities Bureau’s statement of facts.
When the Securities Bureau tried to question Raffa, he invoked his constitutional right to remain silent. Raffa is represented by Biron Bedard, a Concord attorney who declined comment.
These were not the first allegations of security fraud against Raffa.
In 1994, the U.S. attorney’s office charged him with accepting an $80,000 kickback in the sale of 368,000 shares of Fairmont Resources, a Canadian oil and gas company, while telling clients that he was recommending the stock on merit only. In 1996, the federal court sentenced Raffa to two years’ probation, a fine of $20,550 and banned him from trading penny stock.
He paid the fine in 2002.