Lucy D. Barker 6:13 p.m., May 23
Former head of SD company charged in $28 million stock fraud
Mark Anthony Lopez arrested last week in stock manipulation scheme
Mark Anthony Lopez, former head of publicly-traded Unico, has been charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of obstructing justice. New Jersey trader Mark Allen Lefkowitz has already pleaded guilty. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, the company issued 9 billion new shares of stock that were not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), thus diluting the value of existing shares. Then Lefkowitz received $28 million of free-trading shares that he dumped on the market to unsuspecting buyers. Unico would enter into purported loan agreements with shell corporations owned by Lefkowitz, most of which were based in the tax and secrecy haven of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Unico would deliberately default on the loans, and Lefkowitz's shells would sue Unico in Florida in what the U.S. Attorney calls "sham lawsuits." Lopez would agree to settle the suits by issuing unregistered stock worth seven times what Unico owed. Lefkowitz would dump those shares on the market and kick back a portion to Unico. Lopez also tried to obstruct an SEC probe, according to the indictment. Lopez was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Jan. 17.