On May 30, 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced Robert J. Vitale, the subject of an SEC enforcement inquiry plead guilty to criminal charges by the Justice Department for obstructing justice and lying to SEC attorneys investigating a real estate securities offerings to investors.
According to the criminal information filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the SEC issued subpoenas to Vitale and his company Realty Acquisitions & Trust in connection with its securities offering. In connection with the investigation, the SEC investigators subpoenaed Vitale for all related bank records and took his testimony under oath.
According to the criminal information, Vitale lied about the existence of two bank accounts during his testimony in response to the SEC subpoena. Days before his SEC testimony, Vitale allegedly deposited $100,000 into a bank account he controlled yet failed to disclose in his sworn testimony.
SEC charges were not new to Vitale, who had previously been charged several years ago for participating in a pump-and-dump market scheme. As a result of the earlier action, Vitale was barred from from association with a broker-dealer.
Andrew J. Ceresney, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement stated, “Lying to SEC investigators is a violation of the public trust placed in us by America’s investors as well as a violation of criminal law…Those who obstruct SEC investigations should realize they will ultimately be held accountable by criminal authorities who work so closely with us to rid the markets of securities law violators, particularly repeat offenders like Vitale.”
Vitale pled guilty to a two-count information charging him with obstructing the SEC investigation in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1505 and perjury in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1621. Vitale has not yet been sentenced.
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