Two Men Plead Guilty to $1.3 Million Penny-Stock Scheme


Two men pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud in connection with a penny-stock manipulation scheme.

According to court documents, from at least November 2016 through October 2018, Phillip W. Offill, Jr., 64, of Dallas, Texas; Justin Wallace Herman, 52, of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania; and others conspired to misappropriate millions of shares of a publicly traded company that held mining claims in Arizona and Idaho. The defendants then fraudulently marketed the shares for sale through third parties, including call centers, who made materially false statements to potential investors, while manipulating the market so that the stock falsely appeared to be trading more actively than it actually was. As a result of the scheme, victim investors lost approximately $1.3 million.

Over a decade ago, in January 2010, Offill, a former attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, was convicted during a jury trial in the Eastern District of Virginia for participating in multimillion-dollar pump-and-dump stock manipulation schemes. Offill was sentenced on April 23, 2010 to eight years in prison in connection with that case. Offill was serving a three-year term of supervised release when he committed the new offense to which he pleaded guilty yesterday.

Offill and Herman are scheduled to be sentenced on June 21, 2023. They each face a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.