Money & Company

Tracking the market and economic trends
that shape your finances.

« Previous Post | Money & Company Home | Next Post »

Former 'CHiPs' TV star charged with stock fraud

October 7, 2010 |  3:09 pm

How do we break this to Ponch?

Federal regulators on Thursday brought securities fraud charges against more than a dozen penny stock promoters -- including Larry Wilcox, who played California Highway Patrol officer Jonathan “Jon” Baker on the 1970s hit TV show “CHiPs.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission said it caught the promoters in “various illicit kickback schemes to manipulate the volume and price of microcap stocks and illegally generate stock sales.”

The SEC, the U.S. attorney for southern Florida and the FBI set up a sting operation to lure stock promoters.

Ponchjon The SEC said the schemes it uncovered “generally involved the payment of kickbacks to purportedly corrupt pension fund managers or stockbrokers, who would use their clients' accounts to purchase the publicly traded stock of microcap issuers controlled or promoted by the individuals and companies charged today."

"What the promoters and insiders did not know was that the people with whom they arranged these illegal transactions were actually undercover FBI agents or confidential sources participating in undercover operations,” the SEC said.

The goal of such "pump and dump" schemes typically is to boost a stock's price and lure in unsuspecting investors, thereby allowing the promoter to unload more shares into the market at inflated prices.

Wilcox, now 63 and a resident of West Hills, “perpetrated interrelated kickback schemes with two other penny stock company executives,” one in Florida and one in Calabasas, the SEC alleged. The agency lists Wilcox’s company as UC Hub Group Inc.

The SEC’s case against Wilcox is here. His lawyer couldn’t be reached for comment.

Go here for the full SEC release and the cases filed against the other promoters.

"CHiPs,” which ran from 1977 to 1983, starred Wilcox and Erik Estrada as motorcycle cops. Estrada played Francis "Ponch" Poncherello.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox as Ponch and Jon.