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by Mike Caswell
Virginia stock tout Eric Landis, charged for a scheme to boost 97 public companies, has pleaded guilty in Boston. He entered the plea in an appearance on Friday, Jan. 4, before Judge Indira Talwani. The judge allowed him to go free until his sentencing, with relatively few conditions.
The guilty plea comes as part of a case in which prosecutors claim that Mr. Landis carried out manipulative trades in companies that he was paid to promote, with Canadian-linked stocks featuring prominently in the list. Among them was Interactive Multi-Media Auction Corp., an OTC Markets company that Vancouver-area residents Kenneth Telford and Jason McDiarmid were separately fined for manipulating. Also in the list was a company that has since morphed into TSX Venture Exchange listing Specialty Liquid Transportation Corp.
The charge to which Mr. Landis pleaded guilty on Friday was one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum term of 20 years. He is unlikely to spend anything close to that amount of time in jail, however. In his plea agreement, prosecutors and defence lawyers stated that they would not appeal a jail term of 33 months (which may be as close as they came to agreeing on an appropriate jail term to recommend to the judge). In any event, it will be up to Judge Talwani to fashion an appropriate sentence for Mr. Landis. She will rely on submissions from both parties, as well as a report from a probation officer.
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