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A Miami-Dade, Fla., Circuit Court jury has returned a $388.5 million verdict against Ronald G. Williams, Walter Kolker and Select Capital Advisors, a now defunct Miami investment banking firm that allegedly swindled its corporate clients out of millions of dollars. In Miami alone, Williams and his company have been sued by at least 12 different parties, according to Arthur W. Tifford, a Miami lawyer who has been active in a number of cases involving Williams and Select Capital. (In 1998, Williams was the subject of a scathing front-page story in The Wall Street Journal that detailed his past convictions for fraud.) In the most recent case, which ended late Wednesday, Tifford represented Universal Express Inc., a Plainview, N.Y., company that was formerly known as Packaging Plus Services Inc. No lawyers appeared in court to defend Williams, who is currently serving a prison sentence in a separate criminal fraud case. Kolker, who lives in Miami, also did not contest the case. He is not listed in the Miami-Dade phone directory and could not be reached. In 1997 Packaging Plus Services, which was publicly traded in the over-the-counter stock market, hired Select Capital Advisors to arrange a financing packaging of $14 million. Williams arranged “onerous” 30-day financing for the company, with the understanding that conventional long-term financing would be in place before the stringent terms of the short-term financing would kick in, said Tifford. The money was allegedly raised from offshore investors. Select Capital Advisors collected its fee from the proceeds from the short-term debentures but never arranged the long-term financing, said Tifford. “Williams never intended to get conventional financing,” said Tifford. “He lied about having conventional financing in place.” After 30 days, the short-term debenture holders demanded that their notes be converted into stock in Packaging Plus Services. Upon receiving those shares, those investors — who were apparently working closely with Williams and Select Capital Advisors — touted and sold those shares to individual investors. But after selling those shares, the former debenture-holders started to short the stock with negative and fraudulent press releases until the price dropped to just pennies a share, said Tifford. In a Feb. 5, 1998, press release, Packaging Plus officials alleged that some of the company’s so-called “offshore” debenture holders were illegally shorting the stock in a scheme “clearly fostered by Mr. Ron Williams and Mr. Walter Kolker of Select Capital.” In April 1998, Packaging Plus Services filed suit in the circuit court against the investment banking team for return of fees and commissions, breach of contract, fraud and conspiracy. Tifford believes that he can collect at least part of $388.5 million from Williams, even though the former investment banker is incarcerated. A recent deposition from Tracie Williams, wife of Ron Williams, indicates that she lives in a $4,000-a-month apartment in Miami’s Brickell area and has three cars, including a 1998 Jaguar. Additionally, before going to prison, Ron Williams purchased $60,000 in jewelry for his wife. A family friend also sends her large sums of money and negotiable stock securities, Tifford said. In news releases issued in 1996, Select Capital boasted of closing $498 million in investment banking transactions and an additional $227 million in deals in 1997, Tifford said. A call to Tracie Williams was not returned by deadline. Jeff Weiner, a Miami lawyer who represented Ron Williams in his criminal case, noted that Williams did not have a lawyer in the latest case. “Ron is in custody and chose not to defend himself against these actions,” said Weiner. Of the huge jury verdict, Weiner said, “It doesn’t mean much.”

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