Tinton Falls couple settles multi-million-dollar securities fraud case
A Tinton Falls couple, and their investment companies, will pay $2,100,000 to settle state allegations that they conned more than 170 investors out of nearly $5,000,000 connected to a Florida condo development plan.
Investor restitution covers $1,800,000 of the settlement in the administrativbe consent order reached by Anthony J. and Christine L. Cantone, according to New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. The remainder consists of civil penalties.
The couple agreed to 18-month suspensions of their registrations with the Bureau of Securities, and to an independent business review.
New Jersey's Bureau of Securities determined that the Cantones, through Cantone Research, Inc. and Cantone Office Center, LLC, raised $4,700,000 from investors in the form of promissory notes taken out by a developer for a 186-unit condominium complex in Orlando, Esplanade at Millennia.
Authorities alleged that the investors were not apprised of the developer's tenuous financial situation, nor that the securities were illegal for sale, being unregistered and not exempt from registration. The developer defaulted on the loans, authorities said.
Anthony Cantone, CRI's President, CEO and investment adviser, is a registered agent with the Bureau of Securities. Christine Cantone, CRI's Vice-Prsident, was the company's Chief Compliance Officer and registered with the Bureau at the time.
Details in the administrative consent order reveal that between 2005 and 2007, Cantone sold certificates of participation in subordinated promissory notes, valued at nearly $8,000,000, through CRI. Cantone Office Center bought the notes from Esplanade Development, LLC, owned by Robert A. Crowder.
Investigators said that confidendial disclosure forms given to prospective investors indicated Crowder's personal guarantee of payment on certificates of participation, but omitted Crowder's net worth or degree of leverage in which his finances were mired.
Among details omitted were Crowder's 2006 default on a $2,600,000 promissory note bought during the previous year by Cantone Office Center; a $1,000,000 bridge loan from Cantone to Crowder in 2006 to obscure the default and pay interest income owed to investors; and a $5,100,000 loan to Crowder from Cantone Office Center in 2007.
Charges are allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.