Ex-Advisor to Pay $2 Million for Stealing “Movie Money” from Athletes
A federal judge has ordered a former advisor in Pittsburgh to pay nearly $2 million in fines and disgorgement for allegedly stealing money from professional athletes and other high net worth investors to fund movie projects in a Ponzi-like scheme and then lying about his activities to regulators.
Louis Martin “Marty” Blazer III, who founded Blazer Capital Management and an affiliated advisory firm in 2008 after a brokerage career that included 13 years with Smith Barney, took about $2.35 million from five clients to fund two movie projects he agreed to produce after one of the clients refused to invest directly.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, which announced the judgment ordered by Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, last year barred Blazer from the securities industry and filed the fraud case in May 2016. He ordered Blazer to disgorge $1.6 million along with $220,000 in interest, and pay a civil penalty of $150,000.
The legal filings did not name the athletes.
Blazer settled a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration complaint from retired NFL running back Kevan Barlow in 2012 that sought more than $4 million of compensatory damages and $12 million of punitive damages for misappropriating and mismanaging his investments, and failing to provide accurate reports of his accounts.
In a comment on his BrokerCheck report about the $850,000 settlement, Blazer wrote that an unnamed pro football player from 2001 through 2009 “withdrew money (I believe recklessly) and despite numerous documented warnings about his spending habits continued to deplete his accounts forcing us to liquidate holdings prematurely to generate cash.”
Blazer was affiliated with an independent broker-dealer called Comprehensive Asset Management and Servicing in Parsippany, NJ, at the time, but had worked at Smith Barney when the alleged client withdrawals occurred.
Blazer also acted as guarantor for unpaid loans taken out in 2011 by former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Greg Little, former Baltimore Ravens running back Anthony Allen and former University of Pittsburgh basketball star Dejuan Blair, according to an article on the website of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that cited lawsuits from a New Jersey bank.
Blazer, who represented himself in the SEC’s court case, consented to the order without admitting or denying the findings. He did not return a call for comment.
In its complaint, the SEC said that Blazer withdraw $550,000 from one client’s account to help produce the movies “Mafia” and “The Sibling” (also known as “A Resurrection”), despite the athlete’s prior refusal to invest. It accused him of forging the signature of another athlete to make the first client’s account whole, and of producing false documents to SEC examiners questioning the unauthorized withdrawals.
Blazer first registered as a broker in 1992 at the since-expelled Hibbard Brown & Co., subsequently worked at Merrill Lynch and Prudential Securities for just over three years and joined Smith Barney in 1995 for a 13-year stint, according to his BrokerCheck report.
Blazer Investment Advisors, another firm he controlled, had $27 million in assets in 120 client accounts, according to the last ADV filing made in 2012.