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Four Indicted in Alleged Scam Involving Paging Firm Shares : Securities: Authorities call the stock-manipulation case the largest ever in L.A. or Orange counties.

October 15, 1994|DEBORA VRANA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In what authorities say is the largest stock manipulation case ever uncovered in Los Angeles or Orange counties, the former president of a Santa Ana paging company and three others were indicted Friday on charges of securities fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.

Named in the 39-count federal indictment were two Orange County men, Ahmad Naim Bayaa, 41, of Lake Forest, the former president of Southland Communications Inc., and Abdul Deeb, 43, of Anaheim, a former oil consultant.

They controlled the market for nearly all the company's stock in an attempt to drive up its price, according to indictments filed by Assistant U.S. Atty. John Libby. The stock eventually plunged in value when the SEC stepped in and halted trading.

Between 1988 and 1990, the men, along with Shaw Tehrani, 40, an Atlanta stockbroker, and Eduardo Anton, 32, a broker in Miami, manipulated Southland Communications' stock prices, setting up a "secret network" of accounts at brokerages across the country, Libby said.

None of the four defendants could be reached for comment.

Because of the alleged scheme, six brokerage firms holding Southland Communications stock lost nearly $12 million, and one firm, Suplee Reed & Co. of Media, Pa., was forced out of business, according to the indictment.

"This was a complex, thought-out scheme," Libby said. "Basically, they wanted to sock away a good portion of the stock in these secret accounts. They opened up accounts in the names of people who lived overseas, many with ties to Bayaa's family."

According to the indictment, the men used the names of Bayaa's relatives and friends to fraudulently buy nearly every available share in the pager company, eventually controlling more than 80% of the company's stock--or about 1.3 million shares--without telling federal regulators. Under Securities and Exchange Commission rules, stakes of more than 5% must be reported to the SEC.

By secretly controlling the shares and keeping out other investors, the indictment said they were able to artificially boost the price of Southland Communications stock dramatically by withholding shares from the market.

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