Federal securities regulators say that a Florida man raised $5.5 million from more than 60 investors through a promise of turning their money into huge gains in Colorado’s marijuana industry.
But instead, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission claims, he spent $3 million to bankroll a lavish lifestyle that included:
- 11 classic and luxury cars.
- $465,000 of cryptocurrency coins.
- $335,000 spent at an adult-entertainment venue in Tampa, Florida.
- A $580,000 loan to himself to pay off his mortgage.
The SEC on Tuesday filed six counts of federal securities violations against Steven Brickner, 48, of Lithia, Florida, in connection with the scheme.
Brickner, according to a court document, consented to an order to return ill-gotten gains and pay a civil penalty. He also agreed not to make any public comment denying any of the allegations or creating the impression the complaint is without factual basis.
To raise money, Brickner portrayed himself as a successful businessman when actually he filed for bankruptcy in February 2016, according to the SEC suit filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa.
According to the SEC, Brickner told investors he would buy the assets of a Colorado marijuana dispensary company and enter into a reverse merger with a publicly traded company. Their investments, he said, would multiply in value several times over.
In reality, regulators said, “Brickner did not own the assets necessary to carry out any kind of merger with the public company, nor did he ever file any of the necessary documents with any regulatory organization to conduct such a merger or other business combination.”