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Mark Allen Lefkowitz has pleaded guilty to conspiring with an as yet unnamed chief executive of a San Diego company to manipulate the company's stock. The news release doesn't mention penny stocks, but this is almost certainly one -- probably a company that has no or almost no business, trading for a few pennies a share. To effectuate the manipulation that helped insiders and nicked other investors, the company issued 9 billion -- repeat, 9 billion -- shares that were not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Exploiting a little-known provision of securities laws, the company entered into loan agreements with companies owned by Lefkowitz, most based in the offshore tax haven of the Turks & Caicos Islands, a buccaneer cove of some renown. Lefkowitz could get up to 25 years, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

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