Mark E. Fisher, 53, a former Boca Raton lawyer at Fisher Law Firm, and stock promoter Joseph F. Capuozzo from Davie face criminal charges over their alleged involvement in a securities fraud scheme in 2014, which involved the manipulation of shares in a beauty products company, Valentine Beauty Inc. in Sunrise.
According to court documents filed Oct. 22 by the US Attorney’s Office the pair was part of a group that distributed fake news releases about VLBI to give the impression business was better than it was. That caused stock prices to rise, and they sold their shares for $1 million.
Wilfredo Fernandez of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Miami has also filed a civil lawsuit over the alleged “pump and dump” scheme. He did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Fisher received more than 15 million shares in VLBI, two million of which he received pursuant to a “false opinion letter he wrote on behalf of an entity,” which transferred the shares to him.
Fisher, now retired, used to work in securities law, and according to his Florida Bar profile was admitted to practice law in the state in 2000. He acted as an attorney and “undisclosed stock promoter” to VLBI and allegedly used false statements and misrepresented documents to misled investors into thinking VLBI stocks belonged under the ”free trading” umbrella, according to court documents.
Fisher and Capuozzo are the third and fourth defendants in the case after Shane R. Spierdowis and fugitive Eddy Ubaldo Marin, who pleaded guilty but skipped his September sentencing, where the judge sentenced him 17 and a half years in federal prison despite his absence.
Marin, who’s had so many run-ins with the law he’s developed a gallery of mug shots, reached infamy as the “King of Spammers” in 2000, for running giant spam operations from South Florida. In 2015, he was charged with helping Ponzi-schemer Scott Rothstein hide more than $1 million in jewelry.
According to court documents, Fisher, Capuozzo and fellow defendant Spierdowis took control of the scheme while Marin was in prison for another federal crime.
Spierdowis also entered a guilty plea in the case and will be sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerrob Duffy, prosecuting the case for the Southern District of Florida, would not comment.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Fisher and Capuozzo face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 each, or double the gross proceeds of the offense.