Securities Industry Commentator by Bill Singer Esq

May 4, 2020
There's Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. There's Raymond James & Associates, Inc. You even got the Raymond James Stadium. That's a lot of Raymond Jameses -- or, as we in the biz would say: That's a lot of Ray Jay. Sometimes having a number of subsidiaries and affiliates share a name in a big organization is a good thing. It's called branding. On the other hand, sometimes re-using a brand can cause confusion. As today's featured lawsuit shows, confusion ain't always a good thing.
Veteran industry reporter Susan Antilla tells the tale of 55-year-old widow and mother of three, Robin Fratto, who filed a FINRA Arbitration Statement of Claim against Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network. Fratto was scheduled for a May 26th start for four days of hearings. That ain't gonna happen. The COVID19 pandemic has savaged FINRA's hearing docket. Read Antilla's excellent coverage about justice delayed -- ZOOM anyone?
Arthur Hauptman, age 67, pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa to three counts of wire fraud; and he was sentenced to 42 months in prison plus three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $2,158,00 in restitution. As alleged in part in the DOJ Release:

[H]auptman was a former registered securities agent in Iowa and convinced multiple victims in Iowa, Wyoming, and elsewhere to invest in numerous business entities Hauptman created. Hauptman promised tportunity to make a greater return on the investment. During the course of the invehe victims the repayment of their capital investment with interest, along with an opstment period, victims received occasional payments of a portion of the interest due, but when victims attempted to get their money back, Hauptman ignored their requests, or lied to the victims as to the status of their investments. An investigation revealed that Hauptman used a substantial portion of the funds received by the victims for his own personal use, without the victims' knowledge, to include his mortgage payments, rent payments, and credit card payments, among other personal expenses.
Francesco Guerra Perez pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of attempted extortion.  Also, Rodolfo Hermoza Vega and Johnny Hidalgo Marchan pled guilty to conspiring with Guerra to commit mail fraud and wire fraud; and, additionally, Maria Luzula and Juan Alejandro Rodriguez Cuya pled guilty to numerous related felonies. Luzula was sentenced to 165 months in prison. After a two-week trial and conviction, Cuya was sentenced to 210 months in prison.
As alleged in part in the DOJ Release:

[G]uerra, Hidalgo, Hermoza, and their co-conspirators in Peru falsely posed as attorneys affiliated with the U.S. government and U.S. courts; they threatened victims with deportation, detention, negative marks on their credit reports, confiscation of property, and community service requirements in order to obtain payments from them.  U.S. consumers lost more than $1.5 million to the defendants' fraud scheme.  Guerra's sentencing is set for Monday, June 1, 2020.

. . .

[G]uerra, Hidalgo, and Hermoza managed and operated a Peruvian call center called Everglades, which was based in Lima, Peru, and which worked in partnership with Angeluz Florida Corporation in Miami, Florida.  The defendants and other call center employees in Peru used Internet-based telephone calls to lie to and threaten Spanish-speaking victims in the United States.  The callers falsely accused the victims of having failed to accept delivery of certain products and claimed that the victims owed thousands of dollars in fines and that court proceedings would be brought against them.  In reality, the victims had never ordered these products and nothing had been delivered.

The defendants and other call center employees claimed that the consumers could resolve the supposed debts and avoid the threatened consequences if they immediately paid a "settlement fee."  Consumers who contested these settlement fees were told that failure to pay could lead to harmed credit, arrest, deportation, or seizure of property.  

Wasted milk, euthanized livestock: Photos show how coronavirus has devastated US agriculture (CNBC by Adam Jeffery and Emma Newburger)
An infuriating story about an absurd situation -- in many locales, there are empty grocery shelves but farmers are plowing under their crops and livestock are being euthanized. All of which amounts to idiocy and an egregious lack of coordination. As the CNBC article notes in part:

With restaurants and schools shuttered during national lockdown, prices and demand for essential agricultural products has fallen. Farmers who have already endured a slew of financial hardships over the past few years - from the U.S.-China trade war that sent scores of farms out of business to floods that wiped out entire harvests - are now left with an abundance of food that they can't sell.

US beef output tumbles as meat plants prepare to reopen / At least 20 meat processing workers have died of coronavirus (Fox Business by Evie Fordham)
In yet another story about the food-supply chain, Fox Business notes in part that:

Major producers including Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods and Cargill had to shutter plants in April after workers contracted the virus. Now facilities including a Tyson Foods pork plant in Logansport, Ind., will begin to restart this week.

But the companies may have to play catch-up because of falling livestock slaughter rates. For example, cattle slaughter fell 37% last week compared to the same period in 2019, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.