A Connecticut man convicted of bilking thousands of investors in a nearly $19 million “pump-and-dump” stock fraud scheme has died in a car crash, state police said.
Christian Meissenn, 49, crashed his vintage Lincoln Town Car on I-95 in Greenwich on Aug. 16, the Hartford Courant reported, citing state police.
Meissenn, of Suffield, was sentenced in 2018 for his role in a securities fraud scheme from 2009 through 2016 that misled investors and cost as many as 12,000 people – including many retirees — to lose their savings, the Courant reported.
Meissenn, whose attorney said he had a rare blood cancer, received a relatively short three-month prison sentence due to his terminal illness, which could not be adequately cared for in the federal prison system.
“I have to wonder whether some providential force – I’m sure you have too – has sentenced you to something worse,” federal Judge Jeffrey Meyer told Meissenn at his sentencing.
He was also ordered to three years of home confinement and to pay restitution in excess of $5.3 million.
Meissenn’s co-conspirators, including former Hartford City Councilor Corey Brinson, received three- to seven-year sentences in the scheme.
Federal prosecutors said Meissenn and his accomplices conspired to defraud investors by selling penny stocks using “false and misleading” claims that led them to be improperly inflated. The issuing companies, meanwhile, were mostly shell corporations controlled by Meissenn’s associates.
“After selling their own shares at a profit, the conspirators allowed the price of the securities to fall, leaving investors with worthless and unsalable stock,” the Department of Justice said. “As a result, more than 12,000 victim investors lost nearly $19 million.”
Meissenn, who pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, earned roughly $4.4 million during the scheme.
His attorney, Cody Guarnieri, told Meyer in 2018 that he had Erdheim-Chester disease, a rare type of slow-growing blood cancer, and retroperitoneal fibrosis — saying his long-term health outlook was not good, the Courant reported.
Guarnieri had sought a sentence of house arrest and no prison time, but Meyer said it would’ve sent the wrong message to allow Meissenn to avoid time behind bars.
Six others pleaded guilty in the conspiracy, which led to a seven-year prison sentence for Florida businessman Damian Delgado, 44, of Orlando, DOJ officials said.