Defendants in stock hijacking case set to plead guilty
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Two of the three men criminally charged with a brazen scheme to hijack dormant shell companies and fraudulently pump up their stock shares are now set to plead guilty in the case in October, court records reveal.
Records show that Christopher James Rajkaran from Queens (New York) and Guyana was scheduled to appear in a change-of-ple hearing at Minnesota Federal Court on Tuesday.
Rajkaran was denied bail last week from Minnesota’s jail. He “poses serious risks of not appearing” in court. Rajkaran’s lawyer refused to comment on Tuesday.
The other defendant, Mark Allen Miller, who is free on a $25,000 unsecured personal recognizance bondAccording to last week’s change of plea, Rajkaran is expected to plead guilty in that same court on October 14.
Miller’s lawyer did not respond immediately to our request for comment.
Miller (a general contractor from Breezy Point in Minnesota) and Rajkaran pleaded not guilty earlier to 15 counts each of conspiracy to commit and securities fraud.
They did not state what crime they would plead guilty in their change of plea notices.
Saeid Jaberian is the third defendant. He will still be tried in this case.
Jaberian is a Minnesotan resident, also known as Andre Jaberian. He has pleaded guilty to all the charges and is currently free of $25,000 in unsecured bond.
The trio was charged in June with a grand jury indictment that accused them of using fake resignation letters purporting to be from other people to seize control of four shell companies — Digitiliti, Encompass Holdings, Bell Buckle Holdings, and Utilicraft Aerospace Industries — from 2017 through 2019.
Indictment claims that Miller, Jaberian and an unidentified individual related to Miller became nominal CEOs or presidents of targeted businesses.
They are accused of using the Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR public file system and phony news releases to artificially inflate share prices by claiming that they have new business opportunities. According to the indictment, these companies had little revenue or operations.
A court filing says the men bought millions of shares of stocks in the companies, in many cases for far less than a penny per share, which then were sold on the over-the-counter market for profits of as much as 900%.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota — who declined to comment Tuesday on the scheduled plea hearings for Miller and Rajkaran — previously has said the three men are believed to have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit profits.
Jaberian’s lawyer indicated in a court filing late in August that Jaberian will be required to claim that Miller “tricked” him into taking part in the scheme to steal a shell company.
The SEC in June separately sued Miller in a civil case that accuses him of “a fraudulent scheme to target at least seven inactive penny-stock companies … by hijacking five of the companies and causing them to issue false and misleading statements, and by falsely promoting the [companies] with the intention of profiting from a ‘pump and dump’ of the stock.”
Those inactive companies allegedly targeted by Miller in the SEC complaint included the four identified in the criminal indictment, as well as Strategic Asset Leasing, Simulated Environment Concepts, and Bebida Beverage.
At the time he was indicted, Miller was involved in an effort to seize control of a Florida penny-stock company, New World Gold Corp., which is not named as one of his alleged targets in either the criminal case or the SEC’s civil case filed.
New World Gold’s share price has cratered from a high of $0.0275 per share on June 3 — two weeks before news of Miller’s criminal case broke — to $0.0012 per share as of Tuesday afternoon. NWGC shares had dropped more than 29% in trading by late TuesdayMore than 21,000,000 shares have been traded.