State securities unit accuses 3 of violations Novelist Tom Clancy among 100 investors allegedly deceived

February 16, 1996|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

Maryland securities investigators have widened their probe of a stock scheme they believe bilked millions from spy novelist Tom Clancy and about 100 other investors, many of whom still don't know where their money ended up.

Securities officials had originally focused on Richard A. Scott, the owner of a small Prince George's County coin shop where he also ran an investment operation.

But in a civil complaint filed Wednesday, the state's Securities Commission included Mr. Scott's two business partners as participants in the "deplorable scam."

Mr. Scott and his partners, Jeffrey K. Goodman and Edward M. Pereira, took in at least $6.7 million from 96 investors across the country, says the complaint, filed in Prince George's County Circuit Court.

In some cases, investors -- ranging in age from 22 to 96 -- trustingly turned over the bulk of their life's savings at the urging of the men, the complaint said.

The complaint accuses the three men of failing to register as a broker dealer or as an investment adviser as required by law, which would be violations of securities anti-fraud provisions; and of running an unregistered mutual fund.

No criminal charges have been filed but securities officials are continuing their investigation.

All three men worked at Mr. Scott's Camp Springs shop, called Goldie's Coin and Stamp Center. According to the complaint, Mr. Scott enticed clients with what he called "unique investment opportunities" that he guaranteed would yield a 15 percent return "in times good or bad."

Some of the money was placed in a highly speculative mutual fund managed by PaineWebber in New York, but large sums also were deposited in bank accounts that the men regularly withdrew from for personal purchases, the complaint said.

Mr. Pereira of North Beach in Calvert County had "a high-priced ** lifestyle" and last year bought himself gold and platinum bullion, and paid cash for 27 acres in Calvert County costing $76,000, the complaint said.

In court hearings on Goldie's bankruptcy, several investors described Mr. Scott of Alexandria, Va., as a gambler who enjoyed betting $1,500 at a time on the blackjack and craps tables in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and elsewhere. Some reported seeing him lose as much as $30,000 in a single night.

Among the investors who stand to lose is Mr. Clancy, who lives in Southern Maryland and met Mr. Scott through a friend at an Orioles game. He was the largest investor, putting down $1.6 million, bankruptcy records show.

Mr. Clancy and the other investors are waiting for the culmination of the state's investigation to learn whether they can recover all or some of their money. Goldie's has filed for bankruptcy and the state has asked a judge to freeze the assets of Mr. Scott, Mr. Goodman and Mr. Pereira, whose bank records have been seized.

Those bank records show that between October 1990 and May, Mr. Scott made withdrawals from two banks amounting to $260,000; Mr. Goodman, also from Alexandria, withdrew $201,000; and Mr. Pereira took out $65,000, the complaint said. The men also withdrew salaries, ranging from $386 to $451 per week, from those bank accounts, the complaint said.

On Nov. 7, one day before Goldie's filed for bankruptcy, Mr. Scott closed his two bank accounts and instructed PaineWebber to disburse the funds in his personal account, the complaint said, without elaborating.

Investigators said they are continuing to search for other assets.

So far, 96 investors have been identified in Goldie's bankruptcy proceedings. But the securities agency maintained in the complaint that "there are additional persons who invested with Goldie's" who haven't been identified in the bankruptcy file.

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