News


Four Charged with Securities Fraud

 
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Tampa Regional Operations Center and the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) yesterday charged Clifford Frank Bagnell 55, of New Port Richey, Charles Keith Byington 48, of Miami, Gerald Gonzalez 45, of St. Petersburg, and Fred William Howard 62, of Tarpon Springs, for securities fraud totaling losses of $1.3 million dollars.

The investigation revealed that from September 2004 to August 2005, BBG Investments, LLC and BBG Risk Management, Inc. issued and sold 24 month promissory notes to 20 known Florida residents totaling approximately $1.3 million. The investments were sold through offices and employees of First Liberty Group, LLC., an entity owned by Byington.

Bagnall, Byington, Gonzalez and Howard were all charged with securities fraud, a first degree felony and 12 counts of sales of an unregistered security, a felony of the third degree. Bagnall, Gonzalez and Howard were also charged with 12 counts of sales of security by an unregistered dealer, a third degree felony.

Gonzalez and Howard were booked into the Pinellas County Jail and Bagnall was booked into the Pasco County Jail. Byington was booked today into the Dade County Jail.

This case will be prosecuted by Attorney General Bill McCollum’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.

The OFR advises that with any investment, whether recommended in person, by mail, telephone, or on the Internet, citizens should slow down, ask questions, and obtain written information. The OFR encourages investors to ask the following questions to help protect them from becoming a victim of fraud:
  • Do your research! Check the regulatory requirements the profession adheres to and confirm the person you are working with has a professional license. Also, check if any complaints have been filed against the company or individual. Consumers can go to http://www.flofr.com and get up-to-date information on all Office of Financial Regulation issued licenses.
  • Is the investment registered with the SEC and the state where I live?
  • How does this investment match my investment objectives?
  • Will the sales representative send me the latest reports that have been filed on this company?
  • What are the costs to buy, hold, and sell this investment? How easily can I sell?
  • Who is managing the investment? What experience do they have? Have they made money for investors before?
  • What is the risk that I could lose the money I invest?
  • What return can I expect on my money? When?
  • How long has the company been in business? Is it making money, and if so, how? What is their product or service? What other companies are in this business?
  • How can I get more information about this investment, such as audited financial statements, annual and quarterly reports, a prospectus?
  • Immediately get help if you feel you have been victimized. Contact the Office of Financial Regulation at 1-800-848-3792 or go to http://www.flofr.com to file a complaint.

For Further Information Contact:
Heather Smith, Kristen Chernosky or Mike Morrison
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001

Flora Beal, Director of Communications
Office of Financial Regulation
(850) 410-9709