The former chief compliance officer of investment adviser Tellone Management Group (TMG) has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for his role in a fraudulent scheme to hide information from investors.
Steven Wolfe, TMG’s vice president of investments, held the title of CCO from 2006-17. He is charged with aiding and abetting the company’s violations of multiple securities laws; the SEC is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, civil penalties, and permanent injunctive relief as part of its litigation.
According to the SEC’s complaint, filed Tuesday, TMG and President Dean Tellone “concealed material information from TMG’s mortgage fund investors … and from two successive audit firms in order to hide a significant loss in the mortgage fund.” The SEC described the alleged scheme as still active today. The complaint alleged Tellone instructed his friend, Robert Gumerman, to mislead auditors about the status of a $1 million loan the fund made to Gumerman and his wife that had been discharged in bankruptcy proceedings.
In 2015, when auditors inquired about the valuation of the $1 million loan, Tellone and Wolfe “misled the auditors about the loan’s status,” the SEC stated. They presented the auditors with a backdated letter from Gumerman that falsely implied the discharged loan was collateralized, according to the SEC.
During his time as CCO, Wolfe helped put together a 2016 compliance manual that “contained no policies related to how to address, mitigate or disclose actual or potential conflicts of interest related to the TMG Funds,” the SEC stated. Later additions to the manual address “prospective conflicts, while lacking policies regarding addressing and disclosing existing conflicts of interest.” The SEC said TMG “continues to lack” compliance policies and procedures designed to prevent the breaches of fiduciary duty alleged in the agency’s complaint.
Without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, Gumerman has entered a final judgment with the SEC permanently enjoining him from violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.