TRENTON –Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that an Ocean County man was convicted at trial of stealing over $400,000 from investors by depositing their funds into a securities trading company he formed, but then using the funds for his own expenses and personal day trading activity.
Jeffrey D. Griffin, Jr., 43, of Toms River, N.J., was convicted late yesterday afternoon, May 8, by a Passaic County jury of all counts in a five-count indictment charging him with theft by deception, misapplication of entrusted property, two counts of violation of New Jersey’s Uniform Securities Act, and money laundering, all in the second degree. The verdict followed a trial before Superior Court Judge Joseph Portelli in Paterson.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, and the money laundering charge carries an additional anti-money laundering profiteering penalty of up to $250,000. Sentencing for Griffin is scheduled for June 1. Griffin is being detained in jail pending sentencing.
Deputy Attorneys General Anthony Torntore and Alyssa Bloom tried Griffin for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. They were assisted at trial by Detective Mark Byrnes, Detective Roxanna Ordonez and Analyst Gabby Pichler; Detective Franco Cignarella and Investigator Melissa Miller of the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy; Investigator Thomas Dellatorre and Chief of Enforcement Rudolph Bassman of the New Jersey Bureau of Securities; and Deputy Attorney General Sarah Lichter of the Appellate Bureau. Lt. Cheryl Smith and Deputy Attorneys General Phillip Leahy and Mary McAnally also worked on the case during its earlier stages. The case was investigated and prosecuted under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Mark Kurzawa, former Bureau Chief Michael Monahan, Deputy Chief of Detectives William Frederick and Deputy Director of the Division of Criminal Justice Christine Hoffman. The Bureau of Securities took action against Griffin in 2013 and referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice.
“This verdict was the result of tremendous collaboration between our Bureau of Securities, which investigates allegations of securities fraud, and the Division of Criminal Justice, which prosecutes those who commit securities fraud,” said Attorney General Grewal. “I am incredibly proud of our trial team and all of the investigators, detectives, and prosecutors who made this verdict possible. This conviction is a great example of our Department’s divisions working together to protect both our financial markets and the residents of New Jersey.”
“Griffin lied to clients about how their funds would be invested and led certain victims to falsely believe they were investing through a securities firm where he previously worked as an agent,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Once Griffin gained control of investor funds, he shamelessly stole them by diverting them for his own purposes. He now faces a substantial prison sentence.”
The state presented testimony and evidence at trial that from August 2010 through July 2011, Griffin stole $408,000 from four investors – three men and one woman – whose funds were deposited by Griffin into his newly formed company, Tricep Trading LLC. Griffin had worked as a stockbroker for another investment firm, but he left that firm and formed Tricep in August 2010. The three men had been clients of Griffin at the prior firm, and Griffin led two of them to believe that their funds were still being invested through that firm or through a new division of the firm that Griffin was heading. One had $100,000 of his funds deposited into the Tricep business account without his knowledge. He received checks totaling $39,000 from Griffin before Tricep ran out of funds, for a net loss of $61,000. Griffin told the other three victims that he would be investing on their behalf through hedge fund-type investments or day trading. The other two men each invested $25,000 and received no returns. The woman invested $324,000 and received $27,000 in checks from Griffin, for a net loss of $297,000.
Griffin transferred funds from the Tricep business account into his personal account and used the Tricep account to make numerous ATM withdrawals and retail purchases. He transferred $25,000 from Tricep to a firm that engaged in real estate flipping, but did not record that as an investment for Tricep. He used another $120,000 – which he first transferred to his personal account – to open an account with a day trading firm that prohibits members from trading other investors’ money. By May 2011, Tricep was out of funds.
Attorney General Grewal thanked the Bureau of Securities for its investigation and referral. In June 2013, the Bureau of Securities revoked Griffin’s registration as an agent of a broker-dealer and permanently barred him from association in any capacity with any broker-dealer or investment adviser conducting business in New Jersey. It also assessed a $125,000 civil penalty against Griffin and Tricep.
Investors who believe they have been defrauded are urged to contact the Division of Criminal Justice toll free at 866-TIPS-4CJ (866-847-7425) or the Bureau of Securities toll free at 866-I-INVEST (866-446-8378). Callers outside New Jersey can contact the Bureau of Securities at 973-504-3600. Investors are urged to contact the Bureau of Securities before they invest to make sure any securities that are offered to them are properly registered, as required by law.