New York

Broker faces prison time over $131 million fraud scheme

Prosecutors in New York City say a former broker who pitched "worthless" stock to investors and television viewers faces prison for participating in a $131 million market manipulation scheme.

U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers in Brooklyn says Herschel "Tres" Knippa (HUR'-shuhl tray kuh-NIH'-puh), of Dallas, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

Authorities say the scheme ran from around 2009 to 2015 and artificially controlled the price and volume of traded shares of ForceField Energy Inc., a distributor of LED lighting products.

They say Knippa got kickbacks to shill the stock at investor conferences and as a TV guest commentator.

Participants communicated with burner phones and encrypted text messages.

Knippa could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, restitution and a fine.