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Stock Fraudster From Azerbaijan Who Teaches Tennis Gets 28 Months in SDNY

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 17 – Vladimir Ziskind came at age 6 from Azerbaijan in the then-USSR to Florida then Brooklyn. He became a professional tennis player but could not stay in the top 100. He engaged in securities fraud.   

On October 16 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Vernon S. Broderick held his sentencing. Inner City Press live tweeted some of it, here:

 The AUSA says there is no basis for mercy, he came from a stable home, went to NYU, was a professional tennis player.

The US wants 63 to 78 months and payment of $2 million.

 Ziskind's lawyer says he was a victim of religious persecution. And that his wife has mental health issues and cannot work. Hence... securities fraud.    

There was more: his wife as ovarian cancer. A victim's letter was read, about how Ziskind destroyed his golden years.

More: In fact, there was no “Mike Palmer,” and the salesman was actually ZISKIND or co-defendant Kevin Weinzoff, who were taking turns using the fake alias.  The purported time-sensitive investment opportunity was also fabricated by the defendants, as the companies in which they solicited investments were actually companies under their control.  In one intercepted phone call conversation, ZISKIND described to co-defendant Keith Orlean, the chief executive officer of the company, his strategy for a successful investor sales pitch as: “You ram it down their fucking throat.”  In another intercepted call between ZISKIND and Orlean, upon learning that a particular victim investor died, ZISKIND remarked: “I knew I should have pulled the last $10,000 out of him.”    

 The most recent version of the defendants’ phony sales pitch included false representations about an impending initial public offering, or “IPO,” for their company, Digital Donations Technologies, Inc.  For example, in April 2018, ZISKIND assured a victim investor that “our company is doing great,” that the company had an offer for an IPO valued at approximately $300 million, and that Orlean was considering a private sale of the company for more than $1.5 billion.  In truth, however, the defendants knew that the company had little or no actual commercial value and that no such IPO or sale was taking place.

Judge Broderick sentenced Ziskind, a/k/a Mike Palmer, for security fraud to 28 months in prison then 3 years of supervised released. Voluntary surrender, Otisville recommended.

The case is US v. Ziskind, 18-cr-375 (Broderick)


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