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Fraud Settlement Takes Slice Out of His Golf Game

September 02, 2004|E. Scott Reckard | Times Staff Writer

It wasn't enough for Colin Nathanson, an Orange County promoter of golf equipment and investments, to forfeit his 15 financial accounts and his three Coto de Caza homes, with assorted furnishings.

To settle fraud charges, he also had to surrender his personal golf gear and two country club memberships.

The details, including banishment from the Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club and the Mission Viejo Country Club, were part of the resolution of a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit filed in March.

The SEC, which had accused Nathanson of fraudulently raising $29.5 million from investors over three years, announced Wednesday that it had settled the case.

Without admitting or denying the charges, Nathanson agreed to repay $4.7 million to his investors -- money he allegedly misappropriated for personal use. His lawyer, Carol Houck of Ojai, declined to comment.

Nathanson's homes in Coto de Caza, an exclusive gated enclave in south Orange County, were mortgaged, and he wasn't able to repay the entire $4.7 million, SEC attorney Karen Matteson said. So, as it does in such cases, the agency required him to turn over anything of significant value, including the private club memberships, which were worth thousands of dollars, certain rugs and jewelry, and even popcorn machines from a game room.

Matteson said regulators in three states previously had ordered Nathanson to stop selling unregistered investments, including the California Department of Corporations in 1994.

Nathanson was charged with misleading investors about his unprofitable Giant Golf Co. and its successor, Play Big Enterprises Inc., which sold oversized golf clubs and operated an academy in Las Vegas, Matteson said.

Nathanson also was accused of using various companies he owned to defraud investors in advertising, software and interactive video ventures.

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