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NFL Players With Brain Injuries Defrauded by Lawyer: SEC (1)

Aug. 29, 2019, 8:36 PMUpdated: Aug. 29, 2019, 9:11 PM

An attorney who represented some NFL players in a class suit over concussions defrauded them when they invested with his advisory firm, the SEC said Aug. 29 in Florida federal court.

Phillip Timothy Howard convinced investors to put around $4.1 million in funds managed by Cambridge Capital Group Advisors LLC. But Howard didn’t disclose that the funds primarily paid settlement advances to former NFL players involved in the concussion case, including 18 of the 20 investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida said.

Howard represented the former players he allegedly defrauded in a class suit against the National Football League for concussion-related injuries through his Tallahassee, Fla.-based law firm, Howard & Associates P.A., the SEC said. He “has acknowledged that these players’ 'brain function is not there, their body has been beat up from the NFL, they don’t have employment capacity, they don’t have credit, and they don’t have capital anymore,’” but still solicited investments from them, the agency said.

“Howard denies any wrongdoing and will defend the allegations vigorously in order to clear his name,” Mark David Hunter, an attorney for Howard, said. Hunter is a Hunter Taubman Fischer & Li LLC partner and manages the firm’s Miami office.

Howard co-managed Cambridge Capital with Don Warner Reinhard, according to the complaint. The pair allegedly hid Reinhard’s 2008 felony guilty plea and 2011 investment adviser bar from investors. Cambridge’s securities offering continued until 2017, “when Reinhard was arrested for child abuse and could no longer manage Cambridge with Howard or solicit investors,” the SEC said.

Cambridge Capital, Howard, and Reinhard also took around $973,000—more than 20% of the amount raised—from the investors as fees and to cover Howard’s mortgage costs, the agency said.

Causes of Action: Securities Act §17(a)—Employing a device, scheme, or artifice to defraud, making untrue statements or omitting material facts, or engaging in a transaction, practice, or course of business which operates as a fraud in an interstate offering or sale of securities (15 U.S.C. §77q(a)); Exchange Act §10(b)—Using a manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance for a securities transaction in violation of SEC rules (15 U.S.C. §78j); SEC Rule 10b-5—Employing a device, scheme, or artifice to defraud, making untrue statements or omitting facts, or engaging in any act, practice, or course of business which operates as a fraud or deceit (17 C.F.R. §240.10b-5); Advisers Act §206(1)-(2)—Employing a device, scheme, or artifice to defraud a client or engaging in an act, practice, or course of business which operates to defraud a client (15 U.S.C. §80b-6(1)-(2)); Advisers Act §206(4)—Engaging in an act, practice, or course of business which is fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative (15 U.S.C. §80b-6(4)).

Relief: Permanent injunction prohibiting defendants from violating federal securities laws; permanent injunction prohibiting Reinhard from “participating in the issuance, purchase, offer, or sale of any securities,” not including transactions through his personal accounts; disgorgement with interest; civil fines.

Response: Attorneys for Cambridge Capital and Howard didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. An attorney for Reinhard wasn’t immediately identifiable for comment.

The case is SEC v. Cambridge Capital Group Advisors LLC, N.D. Fla., No. 19-cv-00420, complaint filed 8/29/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Bennett in Washington at jbennett@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com