|DOJ Issues Six Criminal Indictments in CMKM Diamonds Case|
September 17, 2009
Seven years after the saga of CMKM Diamonds, Inc (CMKX) officially began, over four years after the company was revoked by the SEC, and a year-and-a-half after the SEC filed civil charges against eleven individuals and three corporate entities, the Department of Justice unsealed criminal indictments against six individuals in the largest penny stock fraud in history.
Former CMKM CEO Urban Casavant and alleged mastermind John Edwards, along with cohort James Kinney, transfer agent Helen Bagley, attorney Brian Dvorak, and Urban’s secretary Ginger Gutierrez were charged with five counts of securities fraud in the massive and complex scam, which involved the selling of over 700 billion shares of CMKX stock to unsuspecting shareholders for an estimated $250 million.
The 40-page indictment, unsealed today in Las Vegas, included allegations of selling unregistered shares of company stock “by use of the mails, over-the-counter mediums of exchange (e.g, the Pink Sheets), and other means” in violation of federal laws. The indictment states that “JOHN M. EDWARDS, URBAN CASAVANT, HELEN BAGLEY, BRIAN DVORAK, GINGER GUTIERREZ, JAMED KINNEY, and others known and unknown, conspired to fraudulently issue and sell unregistered shares of CMKM stock for the purposes of enriching themselves.”
Casavant was also charged with income tax evasion for failing to report a “large part of the income tax due and owing by him to the United States of America for the calendar year 2004.” The charges allege that Casavant “concealed income from the stock and securities of CMKM Diamonds, Inc., by using nominees to conceal and disguise his interest in the shares and the proceeds, and by routing proceeds to accounts of nominees, corporate alter egos, and other entities” within his control.
The charges also included four “forfeiture allegations,” seeking either fines or property seizure on each count. Each forfeiture count states, “It is the intent of the United States of America to seek forfeiture of any properties of the defendants up to $60,000,000 in United States Currency.”
Timothy S. Vasquez, who was instrumental in the arrest and conviction of John Edwards’ wife Diana Lee Edwards (formerly Diana Lee Flaherty) in 2006, was brought on board to head the criminal task force investigating the CMKX scam earlier this year, helping to breathe new life into an investigation that many people (including this reporter) believed had been shelved for good. The multi-agency task force was comprised of representatives from the DOJ, FBI, IRS, and the SEC. The indictment will be available on the CMKM Diamonds website tomorrow at www.cmkmdiamondsinc.com
Defendants Bagley, Kinney, and Gutierrez, who were arrested in Las Vegas yesterday, and Brian Dvorak, who was apprehended in Colorado, were released on bond today. Defendant John Edwards was arrested on September 7 in England. Extradition proceedings are ongoing. Urban Casavant, believed to be in Canada, is still at large.
With over 300,000 pages of evidence scanned during the discovery process, the trials involving all six defendants could take years, but at least the criminal justice process has officially begun. After years of waiting and hoping, sometimes all but giving up hope, today’s criminal indictments will hopefully offer some degree of closure for the over 50,000 victims in the CMKX scandal.