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Former SEC lawyer convicted in stock scheme

A former lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates the nation’s stock markets, was convicted of participating in a multimillion-dollar stock manipulation scheme, prosecutors said.

Phillip W. Offill Jr., 51, was found guilty Thursday by a jury in U.S. District Court in Alexandria of one count of conspiracy to commit registration violations, securities fraud and nine counts of wire fraud.

Offill, who was immediately ordered to jail by a federal judge, faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and up to 20 years for each wire fraud count when he is sentenced April 16.

Prosecutors said Offill, an attorney in Dallas who formerly worked for the SEC, participated in what is known as a “pump-and-dump” stock scheme. He and his co-conspirators manipulated the price and volume of nine companies’ stock by sending out news releases and spam e-mails to create artificial demand for the stock, prosecutors said. After “pumping” up the stock, they “dumped” it by selling shares of the companies that were virtually worthless to unsuspecting investors, prosecutors said.

“As a former SEC lawyer, Mr. Offill knew the law – and he intentionally broke it and tried to hide his crimes,” said Neil H. MacBride, the U.S. attorney in Alexandria. “He and his co-conspirators made millions while innocent investors were left with stock in worthless companies.’’

Ten other people have pleaded guilty in Alexandria federal court for their roles in related stock manipulation schemes, and MacBride said federal prosecutors are “committed to pursuing” similar cases.

-- Jerry Markon

By Washington Post editors  |  January 29, 2010; 10:37 AM ET
Categories:  Alexandria , From the Courthouse , Jerry Markon  | Tags: Ofill, Phillip Windom Ofill Jr., SEC, stock fraud, stock scheme  
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