FBI agents search Island properties
|Holmes Beach Police Department Officer Brian Copeman wraps tape around the perimeter of a property in the 500 block of Key Royale Drive in Holmes Beach Feb. 25. Islander Photos: Lisa Neff|
FBI agents executed search warrants at two Anna Maria Island properties Feb. 25 linked to financial consultant Doyle Scott Elliott.
The searches took place while Elliott, 51, was off the Island, appearing in a Phoenix federal courtroom on an allegation he sold unregistered securities.
The FBI declined to discuss what agents were looking for on the Island.
But Elliott said on Feb. 28 that the FBI was investigating 70 publicly traded companies, including four that Elliott had financed.
Elliott said a federal official told him that there were “intrusions in the four companies that I financed” several years ago and that the case involved stock trading.
“I am not a defendant,” Elliott said. “I am a witness.… I am cooperating with the FBI as a witness.”
The open FBI investigation originated from leads in New Jersey and is being conducted by the agency’s field office in Newark, N.J.
“I’m not specific on the locations, but we did execute some search warrants in Florida,” said Bryan Travers, a spokesman with the FBI in Newark. “And that’s about all I can tell you.”
One property was a single-family home in the 500 block of Key Royale Drive in Holmes Beach and another an office building in the 2200 block of Gulf Drive North in Bradenton Beach.
Holmes Beach Police Department officers assisted at the Key Royale property, which is owned by Elliott.
Yellow tape was used to keep the curious away from the Key Royale residence. Motorists who passed by slowed to inquire about the reason for the law enforcement presence.
“Yellow tape? That’s never good,” said Kevin Stockdale as he bicycled past the large home on the warm Wednesday afternoon.
On Friday morning, residents in the area said they had no idea why agents searched the Holmes Beach property.
Elliott also is connected to the Bradenton Beach property that agents searched Feb. 25 while a Bradenton Beach Police Department officer stood watch outside.
The office is the site of Elliott & Associates, a management consulting service.
Curious passersby stopped to watch the low-key operation in Bradenton Beach, where a single police vehicle was parked in front of the orange building and several unmarked cars were parked on 23rd Avenue.
“Are we in any danger?” said Pam Iota as she crossed Gulf Drive to peek into a window of Elliott & Associates to see papers in disarray and several figures, but little else beyond the blinds.
Personnel in the office declined to comment about the nature of the search or whether authorities seized any property, and referred inquiries to Elliott.
Elliott said he was uncertain what, if anything, authorities took from the Island properties. He also said the search did not result in any apparent damage to property.
At the time the FBI executed the warrants, Elliott was in Phoenix, where his civil trial began Feb. 24 and ended on Feb. 27 in his favor, according to records.
“Proceedings held before Judge James A Teilborg: Jury Trial — Day 4.… Evidence and testimony presented. Closing arguments. Court instructs jury as to applicable law in this case. Jury to deliberate. Verdict returned in favor of defendant,” read a final transmittal from the federal court.
“I won,” Elliott said. “I was vindicated. We had a good feeling about it.… There was no stock fraud.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission complaint was filed against principles with iBIZ Technology Corp. and associates of the company, which is registered in Arizona.
The SEC alleged that, in violation of a number of securities regulations, two officers with iBIZ schemed to inflate the company stock price and that Elliott helped sell shares when they reached high levels — 182.4 million shares that generated $886,800 for the company and $383,467 for Elliott.
“This case involves a penny stock fraud executed by iBIZ Technology Corp and its chief executive officer, defendant Kenneth W. Shilling, and executive vice president H. Mark Perkins,” the SEC alleged in its complaint.
The SEC said Shilling and Perkins made false and misleading statements in press releases, online interviews, investor correspondence, proxy solicitations and reports to inflate the stock price and then took advantage of the inflated price by selling $1 million of their shares and “illegally distributing approximately $3 million of newly issued iBIZ Technology shares through stock sales” by Jeffrey Firestone, Jerrold McRoberts and Elliott.
The other defendants in the case negotiated settlements and were ordered to give back their profits with interest owed.
Elliott, however, went to trial before Judge James A. Teilborg, claiming the SEC’s complaint was unfounded.
“I didn’t do anything wrong so I didn’t settle,” Elliott said.
On Feb. 27, an eight-member jury returned a decision favoring Elliott.
“I won the whole case,” he said the next morning. “There were eight jurors and all eight vindicated me. It was a unanimous decision.”
In another financial matter, Internet records indicated that Elliott was involved in a 2004 review by the National Association of Securities Dealers.
One record stated that Elliott was barred from associating with any National Association of Securities Dealers member in any capacity, but the Island businessman said the record is misleading.
The NASD complaint said Elliott, while a broker with a Sarasota firm, received “$35,000 from a public customer to purchase a low-priced stock in collaboration with Elliott, and was told that the stock would be sold at a profit within 30 days, and that they would split the profit.”
The NASD record further said, “The findings also stated that Elliott failed to use the customer’s funds, and sent him fictitious trade confirmations purporting to confirm sell transactions from the customer’s account at Elliott’s member firm although he did not have an account at the firm and none of the transactions occurred. NASD also found that Elliott failed to respond to NASD requests to appear for an on-the-record interview.”
The NASD was a self-regulatory organization of the securities industry responsible for the operation and regulation of the Nasdaq stock market and over-the-counter markets. It also administrated exams for investment professionals before it was replaced by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Elliott said the review involved an investment arrangement with a neighbor who died and whose finances were questioned by his son.
“That’s 100 percent wrong that I was barred,” Elliott said. “I was never barred.”
Another record, found in the Manatee County court database, was an April 2008 judgment from the circuit court in Tunica County, Miss., ordering Elliott to pay the Grand Casino Tunica/BL Development Corp. $105.756.17 plus 8 percent interest.
Elliott said that case remains open in Mississippi.
“We had a dispute over the markers and that is still in court,” he said.
Elliott won another legal dispute in which Titan Cruise Lines of Florida attempted to collect $200,000 that it said Elliott lost aboard its gaming ship anchored outside the U.S. territorial limits.
The federal complaint filed by Titan in U.S. Bankruptcy Court alleged that Elliott tendered post-dated checks for $200,000 in gaming chips and then stopped payment on the checks after leaving the Ocean Jewel gaming ship.
Elliott said he had financed Titan and that “two or three days after that they filed bankruptcy,” still owing him money.
Elliott added, “A federal judge in Tampa ruled they could not cash the checks — there were two.”
Elliott said he lost money in the financing of Titan. “There are circumstances to everything,” he said.