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SEC defendant Panther negotiating plea deal

2020-02-12 20:42 ET - Street Wire

Also Street Wire (U-BIZM) Biozoom Inc

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by Mike Caswell

James Panther, one of those charged in Arizona alongside Vancouver lawyer Faiyaz Dean for the Biozoom Inc. pump-and-dump, is negotiating a deal that could see him plead guilty. The government claims that Mr. Panther, 46, was part of a $34-million scheme to sell improperly issued Biozoom shares. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.) Among other things, he allegedly helped with manipulative trades and helped to organize a promotional campaign.

Mr. Panther previously pleaded not guilty, effectively denying any wrongdoing, but he could soon be reversing that decision. He and prosecutors filed a joint motion on Tuesday, Feb. 11, in which they asked the judge to postpone pretrial deadlines in the case. (His case is scheduled for trial on June 16, 2020.) The reason for the request is that Mr. Panther has been negotiating a "disposition" that would eliminate the need for a trial. In other words, he would plead guilty.

The plea is not a certainty, but if it does occur it could hardly be good news for Mr. Panther's co-defendants, including Mr. Dean. Federal prosecutors almost always require those who plead guilty in securities fraud cases to provide full co-operation with the government. That co-operation can extend to testifying against others in court. In some instances, the government's sentencing recommendation is tied to a defendant's co-operation.

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