|Winehouse's Alleged Scheme |
The complaint alleges that defendant Isaac Winehouse, doing business as Wall & Broad Equities, organized a "cartel" to purchase a percentage of the Nu-Tech convertible preferred in the names of nominees. He then allegedly arranged for a number of securities firms to become market makers in Nu-Tech common stock and proceeded to sell the common short, allegedly to drive the price of the common stock down.
The Dealings Among Nu-Tech, Winehouse and Plaintiff
Plaintiff Mordechai Gurary purchased 1,000 shares of Nu-Tech common on October 31, 1996 and another 5,500 shares on November 7, 1996 at $14.60 and $15.50 per share, respectively. In or about December 1996, the stock price began to decline. A concerned Gurary spoke to J. Marvin Feigenbaum, chairman of Nu-Tech. Feigenbaum told him that he had spoken to Winehouse and threatened that Nu-Tech would refuse to register the common stock into which the preferred was convertible unless Winehouse and his group stopped shorting the common. He predicted that this threat would convince Winehouse to stop shorting the stock because a refusal to register the common issued upon conversion would force Winehouse to cover his short position by purchasing Nu-Tech common in the open market, perhaps at higher prices. Gurary, evidently comforted, then purchased another 1,000 shares on December 24, 1996 at a price of $11.75 per share.
Gurary claims subsequently to have learned that Winehouse and his associates had continued to short the stock using nominee names, having arranged to "borrow" an unlimited number of shares for that purpose from market makers. On February 18, 1997, Gurary again spoke to Feigenbaum, who told him that he had met that day with Winehouse and others in another attempt to stop the short selling. Feigenbaum told Gurary that Nu-Tech had offered to repurchase the group's preferred shares at cost plus ten percent and to allow it to keep its existing profits from the short sales if the group would stop its activities but that Winehouse had refused. Feigenbaum, however, told Gurary that Nu-Tech would not give in to Winehouse and would refuse to register the short sellers' shares. Later that day, Gurary bought another 8,350 shares of Nu-Tech common at a price of $11.57.
On March 12, 1997, Feigenbaum and another Nu-Tech board member met again with Winehouse and asked that Winehouse and his group accept registration of the common stock into which their preferred was convertible over a period of twelve months rather than insisting that it be registered immediately. Winehouse again refused and said that he would continue to sell short.
Nu-Tech common stock dropped approximately $6 per share over the next two days. On March 14, 1997, the company issued a press release which stated that the price decline could be attributed to "possible sales by shareholders." No mention was made of the discussions between Nu-Tech and Winehouse, allegedly to avoid disrupting Nu-Tech's efforts to acquire Physicians Clinical Laboratory, Inc. ("PCL") out of bankruptcy.
A few days later, Gurary was approached through an intermediary and spoke with Winehouse, who allegedly admitted to him that he deliberately had shorted the stock to drive the price down, said that he intended to continue, and advised Gurary to sell his shares because the price would drop to "a dollar."