Former Newbridge Securities Corporation Financial Advisor Gerald Cocuzzo Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison Following $131 Million Stock Fraud Case

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Erez Law is currently investigating former Newbridge Securities Corporation financial advisor Gerald Cocuzzo (CRD# 4047511) regarding securities fraud in relation to a $131 million stock manipulation scheme of ForceField Energy. Cocuzzo was registered with Newbridge Securities Corporation in Boca Raton, Florida from 2014 to 2016, after he was terminated regarding, “Indictment from the US District Court Eastern District of NY.” Previously, he was registered with IAA Financial LLC in Boca Raton, Florida from 2009 to 2015. Cocuzzo is currently not registered with any brokerage firm.

In July 2016, Cocuzzo was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to securities fraud for his participation in the manipulation of Forcefield Energy, Inc. (previously listed on the NASDAQ under stock ticker FNRG), a publicly traded company. According to a statement by the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York, between 2009 and 2015, Cocuzzo and nine others engaged in a $131 million scheme to trick investors into buying shares of ForceField Energy, a worldwide distributor and provider of LED lighting products and solutions. According to the case, Cocuzzo and the other brokers controlled the price and volume of traded shares of ForceField Energy by, “by artificially controlling the price and volume of traded shares of ForceField through, among other means: (1) using nominees to purchase and sell ForceField stock without disclosing this information to investors and potential investors; (2) orchestrating the trading of ForceField stock to create the misleading appearance of genuine trading volume and interest in the stock; and (3) concealing secret payments to stock promoters and broker dealers who promoted and sold ForceField stock to investors and potential investors while falsely claiming to be independent of the company.”

Cocuzzo and the other representatives were offered cash bribes and other kickbacks to recommend the stock to their clients. The complaint alleges that investors were unaware those soliciting them were being paid to steer them to the stock, and that some of the perpetrators attempted to evade law enforcement by going so far as to communicate with prepaid disposable “burner” phones and encrypted, content-expiring text messages. ForceField Energy was delisted from the NASDAQ in May 2015, according to a statement by the company.

Cocuzzo has been the subject of nine customer complaints between 2001 and 2016, two of which were denied, two closed without action and one withdrawn, according to his CRD report:

  • December 2016. “Client indicated his displeasure with the purchase of a secondary offering in Forcefield Energy Corp and was upset to see his $50K investment diminished. Client alleged that he now knows the investment was a fraudulent offering.” The customer is seeking $52,000 in damages and the case is currently pending.
  • July 2016. “Claimants allege overconcentration, breach of fiduciary duty/contract, common law fraud, negligent supervision, negligent hiring and a violation of the California securities act.” The case was settled for $27,500.
  • July 2014. “Client alleges unsuitability.” The customer sought $100,000 in damages and the case was settled for $18,000.
  • September 2005. “Client alleges failure to follow instructions by neglecting to execute a stop loss order.” The customer sought $8,790.35 in damages and the case was settled for

Pursuant to FINRA Rules, member firms are responsible for supervising a broker’s activities during the time the broker is registered with the firm. Therefore, Newbridge Securities Corporation may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by Cocuzzo’s customers.

Erez Law represents investors in the United States for claims against former Newbridge Securities Corporation financial advisor Gerald Cocuzzo, who is alleged to engage in securities fraud in relation to a $131 million stock manipulation scheme of ForceField Energy. If you were a client of Newbridge Securities Corporation or another firm, and have experienced investment losses, please call us at 888-840-1571 or complete our contact form for a free consultation. Erez Law is a nationally recognized law firm representing individuals, trusts, corporations and institutions in claims against brokerage firms, banks and insurance companies on a contingency fee basis.

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Author: Jeffrey Erez

The founder of Erez Law, Jeffrey Erez, focuses exclusively on securities arbitration and litigation. Mr. Erez passionately believes in representing aggrieved investors and obtaining justice for his clients through litigation.