Former U.S. broker faces five-year prison over USD 131-M manipulation scheme

By on February 28, 2017


A former broker who regularly appeared on television news networks to pitch "worthless" stock faces up to five years in prison for participating in a 131 million U.S. dollars market manipulation scheme. (Photo; teekay72/Flickr)
A former broker who regularly appeared on television news networks to pitch “worthless” stock faces up to five years in prison for participating in a 131 million U.S. dollars market manipulation scheme. (Photo: teekay72/Flickr)

NEW YORK—A former broker who regularly appeared on television news networks to pitch “worthless” stock faces up to five years in prison for participating in a 131 million U.S. dollars market manipulation scheme.

Herschel C. Knippa III, also known as “Tres,” pleaded guilty to commit securities fraud in connection with the fraudulent market manipulation of ForceField Energy Inc. (ForceField), a publicly-traded company listed on the NASDAQ, said Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a press release Monday.

Knippa engaged in a scheme between January 2009 and April 2015 to defraud investors in ForceField, a purported worldwide distributor and provider of LED lighting products and solutions, by artificially controlling the price and volume of traded shares of ForceField, the release said.

Between July 2014 and March 2015, Knippa received commission payments, or kickbacks, from a ForceField executive for promoting the purchase of ForceField stock to investors, including by making presentations at investor conferences and by speaking about ForceField during television appearances on the Fox Business and Business News Network channels, it said.

Knippa and his co-conspirators concealed their participation in the scheme by using prepaid, disposable cellular telephones and encrypted, content-expiring messaging applications to communicate with each other, and by paying kickbacks in cash, it said.