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Securities industry ban asked for executive
SEC sees ‘Ponzi scheme’ bilking
Question of the Day
A Washington-area executive accused in a lawsuit of bilking millions of dollars from a charity founded more than 200 years ago by Dolley Madison is facing a lifetime ban from the securities industry.
The Securities and Exchange Commission made the request in newly filed court papers detailing what officials called a Ponzi scheme in which the executive, Garfield Taylor, defrauded more than 130 investors — mostly middle-class residents and charitable groups.
SEC lawyers placed total losses from all of the investors at about $27 million from 2005 to 2010.
The Washington Times first reported more than a year ago on one of Mr. Taylor's former clients, the nonprofit Hillcrest Children's and Family Center, which was founded by Dolley Madison. It claims to have been tricked into investing more than $8 million with Mr. Taylor that they never saw again.
Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled against Mr. Taylor in the Hillcrest case. Messages left on a phone number that court records listed as belonging to Mr. Taylor were not returned.
According to a separate complaint by the SEC, Hillcrest wasn't alone.
"Rather than committing isolated, short-term violations, Garfield Taylor knowingly orchestrated a multi-year Ponzi scheme offering to sell risky, unregistered securities through a countless web of lies " SEC attorneys wrote in a recent court filing.
According to the same filing, Mr. Taylor "vehemently claimed he did nothing wrong" at a Dec. 11 hearing in federal court in Washington.
In another recent development, a judge sided with the SEC in its motion for summary judgment, and government lawyers say they want the judge to issue an order for Mr. Taylor — along with his company, Gibraltar Asset Management Group — to pay more than $20 million.
The SEC also called for a permanent injunction prohibiting Mr. Taylor from committing future securities violations. No criminal charges have been filed against Mr. Taylor, according a search of federal court records. The SEC does not have the power to bring criminal cases.
Some investors may have felt better about entrusting Mr. Taylor with their money when they read his marketing materials. The materials disclosed in court records filed in the Hillcrest case describe the backing of some prominent financial minds. One of the advisers listed is Dean Sirjue, a former member of the Prince George's school board who is an associate dean of finance and administration at Georgetown University's public policy institute.
Mr. Sirjue previously told The Times he was asked to be an adviser for a minority startup business but had terminated the relationship in 2009. He said he had no involvement with Mr. Taylor's company or its dealings with the Hillcrest Children's Center. At the time, Mr. Sirjue was assistant dean at Howard University.
Another adviser listed in Gilbraltar's marketing materials is Barron Harvey, dean of Howard's business school. Mr. Sirjue told The Times in 2011 that neither he nor any other advisers from Howard were paid.
"In a general sense, probably they were going after the kind of clients who can afford," Mr. Sirjue said later in a deposition filed in the Hillcrest case.
The lawsuit did not name Mr. Sirjue as a defendant, nor did it accuse him of any wrongdoing.
"They weren't going after individuals but more or less organizations that had the capacity to invest this amount of money," he said.
Asked if he had any sense that representatives of Gibraltar could be engaged in any "fraudulent conduct," Mr. Sirjue replied, "Not at all."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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