Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Biotech CEO Who Relied On Multiple Aliases Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Theranos-Like $28 Million Fraud Involving a Fake Finger-Prick Covid Test; 2 Mississippi Businessmen Found Not Guilty in Pandemic Relief Fraud Trial, and other C-Virus related stories

Biotech CEO who relied on multiple aliases sentenced to 7 years in prison for Theranos-like $28 million fraud involving a fake finger-prick Covid test:
The CEO of a California biotech company, Decision Diagnostics, claimed to have a finger-prick test that could detect Covid-19 and used multiple fake identities to pump up the company’s stock price, authorities said. The CEO, Keith Berman, was sentenced on Friday to seven years in prison for the fraud that led to $28 million in investor losses, according to the Department of Justice.
He pleaded guilty in December to securities fraud, wire fraud, and obstruction of an official proceeding.
“At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Keith Berman gave people false hope that his biotech company had developed a rapid blood test to detect COVID-19. But there was no such test. Berman defrauded investors to profit from the pandemic,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in a statement on Friday.
Authorities said Berman, 70, made numerous false statements to investors, even claiming that he didn’t pay himself as the CEO of Decision Diagnostics, despite using $360,000 of company funds to pay for live chats on webcams with people in foreign countries. He did this as the company’s faced serious financial difficulties, according to the indictment.
In the scheme detailed in the complaint, Berman hatched a plan in March 2020 to use the pandemic to solve the Westlake Village, Calif.-biotech’s financial problems. He adopted a fake name, “Matthew Steinmann,” to pose as a friend of his to pretend to talk with investors. Using the alias, Berman also posted fake messages about the biotech firm to investors on message boards to gin up enthusiasm and artificially pump up the company’s stock price.
He used other aliases, such as “plutonium” and “plutoniumimplosion,” to refute allegations on the online message boards Investors Hub (iHUB) and Investors Hangout that it was Berman himself was making misleading claims about the biotech company. He even denied in one post that he was Berman, the indictment says. And while using the plutoniumimposion name, he said he was a Decision Diagnostic investor of 20 years. Regulators said Berman posted over 1,000 messages on the iHUB message board to pump up the stock price. --->READ MORE HERE
2 Mississippi businessmen found not guilty in pandemic relief fraud trial:
Two Mississippi businessmen, one of whom served on the governor’s economic recovery advisory commission, have been cleared of all charges in a case where they were accused of fraudulently receiving more than $2 million in COVID-19 pandemic relief.
Jabari Ogbanna Edwards and Antwann Richardson, both residents of Columbus, were found not guilty Friday by a federal jury in Oxford, court records show.
Edwards and Richardson were indicted in June 2022 on charges of money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to Clay Joyner, U.S. attorney for northern Mississippi. Edwards also was charged with making a false statement.
In April 2020, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves appointed Edwards as one of several members of Restart Mississippi, a commission to advise him on the economy as COVID-19 spread.
Edwards held a news conference Tuesday in Columbus to thank his supporters and attorneys, WCBI-TV reported.
“Your unconditional love, unyielding support have been my steadfast anchor throughout these trying times,” Edwards said. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

Scientists explain how the COVID States Project analyzed the pandemic with objectivity

Michigan schools must plan for budget changes as COVID relief funding ends

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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