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Ex-Stock Promoter Denied Bail, Owes $778K For $95M Fraud

Published Jul 30, 2018

A former stock promoter serving more than two years in prison for his role in a $95 million global market manipulation conspiracy was denied bail pending appeal last week and then ordered on Friday to pay $778,000 in restitution for aiding in a pump-and-dump scheme involving worthless penny stocks.

U.S. District Judge Eric Vitaliano said Songkram Roy Sahachaisere was spared from paying more than $1 million in restitution as originally ordered in his presentence investigation report after his November 2015 conviction on five counts of securities and wire fraud. After two years of what the judge admitted were "protracted presentence investigatory proceedings," the court asked for updated restitution figures based only on losses from misconduct occurring through 2009 — at which time Sahachaisere no longer participated in the fraud scheme — and readjusted the amount to $778,444.78, according to the July 20 order.

One day earlier, Judge Vitaliano denied a motion from Sahachaisere to be released on bail while he appeals his conviction. The judge said Sahachaisere may not be a flight risk or danger to the community, but he has failed to show that his appeal will raise a question of law or fact that might drastically change his conviction or sentence.

"The evidence presented in the government's case 'was voluminous, comprehensive and overwhelmingly incriminating,'" Judge Vitaliano said. "Apart from [one FBI agent's] testimony, the jury heard significant wire recordings, including of Sahachaisere himself participating directly in the scheme, and the live testimony from cooperating witnesses, all of which established Sahachaisere's participation in the charged pump-and-dump scheme."

Judge Vitaliano sentenced Sahachaisere to 27 months in prison in February, finding it was "somewhat off-putting" that the 48-year-old had not accepted full responsibility for his role in a scheme to spike the trading and volume of worthless penny stocks.

According to prosecutors, Sahachaisere and others issued fake press releases, touted fake ventures and mergers, posted false information in online forums and bribed other stock promoters to artificially inflate the prices of certain penny stocks that were then pushed on to unsuspecting investors. Sahachaisere was one of six men to be arrested in 2013 — and the seventh to have since been sentenced — for the scheme purportedly masterminded by Sandy Winick, who was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in 2016.

In his motion for release on bail pending an appeal, Sahachaisere argued that testimony from a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been "blatant hearsay," addressed matters the agent was unfit to speak on and should not have been admitted into evidence at trial. The testimony was misleading to the jury, Sahachaisere said, but the judge said that it was unlikely the challenge to the agent's testimony would "disturb the jury's finding of guilt."

What's more, the judge said, the topics covered in that agent's testimony were "well-tread" by other witnesses, including Sahachaisere's own co-conspirators.

An attorney for Sahachaisere on Monday declined to comment on the bail denial and restitution order, but did say in an email to Law360 that he intends to file an appeal in the Second Circuit.

A representative for the U.S. Department of Justicedeclined to comment on Monday.

The government is represented by Tyler J. Smith of the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn.

Sahachaisere is represented by Joel Stein of the Law Offices of Joel M. Stein Esq.

The case is U.S. v. Winick et al., case number 1:13-cr-00452, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.