Thursday, June 25, 2009
The SEC announced that on June 3, 2009, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey entered Final Judgments against Mark Cocchiola, former CEO, president, and chairman of the board of directors of New Jersey-based Suprema Specialties, Inc. (“Suprema”), and Steven Venechanos, former CFO, secretary, and director of the company. The Commission’s complaint against Cocchiola and Venechanos alleged that they violated the antifraud and other provisions of the federal securities laws through their participation in a multi-year financial fraud orchestrated by Suprema’s management. Without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, Cocchiola and Venechanos each consented to the entry of final judgments imposing full injunctive relief and permanent officer and director bars. The final judgments ordered Venechanos to pay $1,484,202 in disgorgement and $732,126.45 in prejudgment interest and Cocchiola to pay $4,834,565 and prejudgment interest in the amount of $2,446,852.74, which obligations were deemed satisfied by the prior entry of restitution orders against each defendant in the parallel criminal action captioned U.S. v. Cocchiola and Venechanos, No. CR05-533-SRC.
The Commission also announced today that on June 4, 2009, the Commission brought to a close related civil injunctive proceedings against eleven other defendants whom the Commission alleged had participated in the Suprema financial fraud.
Each of the eleven above-listed individuals and entities had previously consented to the entry of judgments imposing full permanent injunctive relief and, in the case of the individuals, officer and director bars. These judgments had reserved the Commission’s right to apply to the court at a later time to determine disgorgement and civil penalties. In view of the restitution orders and other criminal sanctions subsequently imposed on these defendants in the parallel criminal case, the Commission has withdrawn its claims for additional disgorgement and civil penalties from these defendants.
As detailed in prior releases, the Commission’s complaints in this matter alleged that Suprema engaged in fraudulent “round-tripping” transactions that resulted in total misstatements of Suprema’s reported revenue of between approximately 35% and over 60% in each of the 1999, 2000 and 2001 fiscal years, and in the first quarter of fiscal year 2002. The complaints further alleged that the scheme resulted in total misstatements of Suprema’s reported accounts receivable of 60% or more in each of the 1999, 2000 and 2001 fiscal years.