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Accused Teenager Files SEC Report

Probe: Late filing on Internet betting site run by Cole Bartiromo leaves unanswered questions.

March 13, 2002|BONNIE HARRIS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Mission Viejo teenager accused of Internet securities fraud filed a long-awaited accounting of the money he raised, but the report sheds little new light on the operation and appears to raise more questions than it answers.

Lawyers for Cole A. Bartiromo, 17, submitted an eight-page document to the Securities and Exchange Commission over the weekend, about a month past the deadline by which Bartiromo had agreed to provide an accounting as part of a settlement with the SEC.

The agency in January accused the Trabuco Hills High School senior of bilking investors of more than $1million through a sports-betting Web site called Invest Better 2001. Bartiromo settled the SEC civil complaint without admitting guilt. He still could face criminal charges.

Alex Vasilescu, an SEC attorney in New York, said Tuesday that much of the filing is based loosely on information federal authorities already know.

SEC officials previously said they have recovered $1.2 million from the alleged scam. The filing indicated that nearly $1.1 million has been turned over to authorities--including $895,000 from an account at a Costa Rican casino, $121,000 from an electronic payment system and $25,000 from a personal bank account in Bartiromo's name.

Two other people, Jake Sansome and Scott Burrola, are mentioned as having turned over $7,000 to authorities, with an additional $20,000 promised. But the report gives no further information, and SEC's Vasilescu declined to comment about them.

The filing also indicates, without explanation, that Bartiromo received $1.6 million from third parties and paid back $900,500 to third parties. Yet the accounting says there was "no loss to third parties."

"We're trying to make sense of it," Vasilescu said of the report. "We are still not convinced we have the total assets acquired by Invest Better 2001."

Calls to Bartiromo and his San Francisco attorney, David Bayless, were not returned Tuesday.

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