Another Lawyer Guilty In $20 Million Pump-And-Dump Scheme
NEW HAVEN Lawyer and former Hartford councilman Corey Brinson walks out of U.S. District Court in New Haven a year ago. Bionson pled guilty to charges involving an investment scam ( Marc-Yves Regis I, special to the Courant) (Marc-Yves Regis I / Special to the Courant)
A Colorado lawyer pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring with a half-dozen others in the $20 million, Connecticut-based stock swindle that sent former Hartford attorney and City Councilor Corey Brinson to prison a year ago.
Diane D. Dalmy, a suburban Denver lawyer who has been in trouble with government securities regulators previously, is the seventh discredited lawyer or broker arrested in a stock manipulation scheme that, by conservative estimate, has ensnared 12,000 victims, many of whom are retirees who lost their savings.
She appeared in U.S. District Court Tuesday and pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Dalmy, as with Brinson, was accused of signing phony attorney opinion letters that falsely certified the legitimacy of what are known as pump-and-dump, penny-stock transactions. She previously was barred from securities work by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission for issuing the same sort of letter in an earlier stock offering and profiting from the resulting fraud.
Dalmy, 63, also admitted in court Tuesday that she allowed one of the other conspirators to use their law firm trust account to move money.
In pump-and-dump schemes, conspirators acquire blocks of stock in worthless shell companies and pitch the companies to investors as being on the cusp of a commercial breakthrough, often in fields such as rare earth mining or software development.
The stock manipulators used rigged stock trades, phony announcements about business developments — often delivered to millions of inboxes by unscrupulous Internet spammers — and other fraudulent means to pump up share prices of the stock, much of which they control.
As share values, which trade for pennies, rise rapidly, salesmen pitch the stocks to unsophisticated investors. As values peak, the conspirators dump, or sell, their stock, causing the value to collapse, and leaving unwitting investors with worthless shares.
Dalmy faces up to five years in prison, a $40 million fine and an order to make $10.7 million in restitution. She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2.
Government records and disclosures in court identify Christian Meissenn, also known as Christian Nigohossian, of Suffield as a leader of the scheme. Meissenn, 44, is associated with a dozen or so businesses and properties across the state. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges in 2016 and has been cooperating with federal investigators ever since.
Meissenn and his lawyer have declined to discuss his business ventures.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a regulatory agency funded by the securities industry, reports that, over the decade before moving to Connecticut, Meissenn worked for a half-dozen New York-area brokerage businesses, four of which were expelled by FINRA for violating industry rules.
Meissenn was barred personally from the industry by FINRA as well as the by state banking department, before the date of many of the offenses with which he is now charged.
Authorities have so far charged people from Florida, New York, Colorado and Connecticut for conspiring in the stock fraud — for setting up fraudulent businesses and trades or selling worthless stock to victims.
Two have been sentenced to prison sor far. Brinson, who said he was tricked by Meissenn into working for the conspiracy, is serving three years. A stock salesman from Florida, who had previously been charged in a different stock swindle, was sentenced to seven years.
The others are awaiting sentencing and the investigation is continuing.
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