The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a medical-device company and convicted felon and former NHL team owner Peter Pocklington, and others with defrauding investors by hiding Pocklington’s recidivist history and by misappropriating investor funds.
The SEC alleges that in 2010, Pocklington pleaded guilty to a federal felony perjury charge and was later ordered to pay over $5 million as part of a settlement for unrelated state securities fraud and registration charges. Pocklington subsequently founded and now controls California-based The Eye Machine (now known as Nova Oculus Partners), a medical-device company that raised over $14 million between 2014 and 2017 from more than 260 investors in unregistered offerings.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Pocklington and his attorney, Lantson Eldred, structured the ownership of The Eye Machine to conceal Pocklington’s role with the company and held Eldred out as the company’s “visual front.” In the offerings, Pocklington, Eldred, and The Eye Machine allegedly failed to disclose Pocklington’s checkered history and involvement, and misrepresented how investor funds would be spent. Pocklington allegedly misappropriated over $600,000 of investor funds for personal use, including funding his gold mining companies and paying personal legal and credit card bills.
The complaint also alleges that The Eye Machine paid millions of dollars in undisclosed and excessive sales commissions to defendants Yolanda Velazquez, Vanessa Puleo, and Robert Vanetten, who acted as unregistered brokers for the company. According to the complaint, Velazquez, whom the SEC previously barred from acting as a broker-dealer, and Puleo used “boiler room” operations in Florida to “cold call” investors.
“Investors should know when a recidivist plays a central role in a company’s operations and offerings,” said Michele Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. “Investors should research the background of anyone offering an investment, but they can only do this if the offering accurately and adequately discloses the individuals involved.”
The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal court in California, charges The Eye Machine, Pocklington, and Eldred with violating the anti-fraud and securities registration provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint also charges The Eye Machine’s majority shareholder, AMC Holdings, and Terrence Walton, The Eye Machine’s in-house accountant, with securities fraud violations.
In addition, the complaint charges Velazquez, Puleo, and Vanetten with broker-dealer registration and securities registration violations. Velazquez is also charged with violating a prior SEC order barring her from associating with a broker-dealer. The complaint seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement and interest, and penalties.