Make us your home page

SEC lawsuit says pair used 'pump and dump' scheme

Want to make $5.5-million in just two months? Valrico stock promoter Robert M. Esposito accomplished this unlikely goal several years ago when he helped a tiny New Jersey company go public and hired a Tampa buddy to publicize its stock.

The only problem, federal securities regulators say, is that the pair had to break the law to do it.

According to a lawsuit filed Monday in Tampa federal court, Esposito, 47, was the "ringleader" of a scheme to illegally pump up the stock price of Anscott Industries Inc. of Wayne, N.J. Esposito's attorney denied the allegations.

The Securities and Exchange Commission's complaint claims Esposito arranged to take the specialty-chemical company public by having it acquire a publicly traded shell called


He then hired a frequent partner on such deals, Tampa stock promoter Gregory A. King, to drum up interest in Anscott by exaggerating and fabricating its accomplishments in a series of faxed stock reports, regulators said. Among the claims: that an Anscott fabric-protection product called XPel could repel AIDS, SARS and other infectious diseases, and that the company's strategic partners included defense contractor Raytheon and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Esposito, who received 4-million shares of Anscott stock as payment, allegedly made $5.5--million during the first two months of trading by selling just 40 percent of his stake at inflated prices. King, 55, received $400,000 for his services, the SEC alleged. "There's few places where you'll find more pump-and-dumps than in Florida," Robert Kaplan, an assistant SEC director for enforcement, said in an interview.

Anscott filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August. It reported no revenue in 2006 and 2007.

Tampa lawyer Burt Wiand, who represents Esposito, said his client denies any wrongdoing and will contest the allegations. "This stuff about (being) a 'ringleader' is just gratuitous fluff," the Fowler White attorney added.

King, who was named as a co-defendant, could not be reached late Monday for comment. The SEC's complaint also names Anscott CEO Jack R. Belluscio, a resident of Saddle River, N.J., as a co-defendant.

According to public records, Esposito was arrested in 1996 for selling cocaine and was subsequently convicted on two counts. He currently is listed as president of Barrington Financial Inc., a Brandon company whose services include stock promotions.

"The mainstream media tends to focus primarily on the largest corporations listed on major stock exchanges," says its Web site, "Barrington understands how to get the word out" about smaller companies.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Scott Barancik can be reached at or (727) 893-8751.

SEC lawsuit says pair used 'pump and dump' scheme 03/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 3:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  2. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  3. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  4. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  5. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.