The FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida announced today that Barry Minkow, 44, of San Diego, Calif., pled guilty to conspiring with others to manipulate the stock price of Lennar Corporation by making false and misleading statements about Lennar Corporation’s business operations and management.
According to the charging document and the plea agreement filed with the Court today, Minkow operated Fraud Discovery Institute, a for-profit fraud investigation firm based in California. In this way, Minkow developed ties with federal law enforcement agencies as a purported fraud-finder.
As part of the plea, Minkow admitted making false and misleading statements alleging wide-spread improprieties in Lennar Corporation’s financial reporting and business structure, and attacking the personal character of Lennar’s management.
According to the charges and the plea agreement filed with the court, Minkow was hired to put economic pressure on Lennar to pay money demanded by a business partner in a prior land deal.
To this end, beginning in January 2009, Minkow used the Internet, press releases, e-mail communications, Youtube.com videos, and the United States mail to broadcast false and misleading statements about Lennar, with the intent of artificially depressing Lennar’s stock price.
In today’s plea, Minkow admitted that he abused his relationship with federal law enforcement agencies to report false allegations of criminal conduct purportedly committed by Lennar and its management.
Once Minkow confirmed that his allegations had successfully induced law enforcement to open a criminal investigation, Minkow allegedly used that knowledge and information to trade Lennar securities for his own benefit. Mr Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the cooperative efforts of the Miami Regional Office and the Washington, DC. Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.