A Virginia businessman has been charged with bilking at least 55 clients of more than $750,000 in a purported real estate and securities investment program, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint filed in federal court in Alexandria.
The complaint charges that Thomas J. Ball and his company, Tom Ball & Associates, based in Great Falls, Va., violated a series of securities registration and disclosure laws and converted investors' money into personal funds.
Darwyn Lesh, an attorney for Ball, said he would not comment on the case and attempts to reach Ball yesterday were unsuccessful.
The case, filed by the SEC's Washington regional office, seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against Ball and asks the court to freeze Ball's assets until a thorough accounting of his funds can be completed.
Ball, according to the SEC complaint, sought investors through mailings, newspaper advertisments, and talks before retirement groups.
The investment plans outlined by Ball involve contracts for profit-sharing agreements and promised investment returns of between 11 percent and 19 percent, the SEC complaint said.
In addition to those contracts, Ball offered clints "land development investments," which proposed that Ball would combine the resources of a group of investors to purchase undeveloped land.
'In almost every instance, investors in defendants' securities made such investments in an attempt to provide for their children's education or their own retirement," the SEC said in a supporting memo.
Ball, accordingd to the complaint, has been soliciting money, primarily from Washington area investors from at least 1973 until the present time, but has been defaulting on interest and principal payments since at least November 1978.
Further, the SEC charged that Ball used investor proceeds for personal expenses, including the purchase of property for his wife, home furnishings, vacations, mortgage payments, and the purchase of a car and a truck.
Ball is currently in default on all known outstanding obligations to investors and sustained losses of more than $750,000 in 1978 alone, the SEC said.
One investor, Peter R. Schoeffel, a U.S. Navy captain, said in an affidavit that he invested a total of $83,000 with Ball, primarily back pay and interest accumulated while he spent five and a half years in a prisoner of war camp in Vietnam.