The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed fraud charges against an Austin investment adviser and two of his businesses, alleging that he conducted a "multimillion-dollar scam" that used former professional football players to promote its offerings.
The SEC alleged in a filing last week that Kurt B. Barton and Triton Financial LLC raised more than $8.4 million from about 90 investors by selling "investor units" in an affiliate, Triton Insurance, and telling investors that their money would be used to buy an insurance company.
Barton, who is Triton's chief executive officer, allegedly used the funds instead to pay day-to-day expenses at Triton Financial and its affiliate.
A statement from his attorney, Joe Turner, said Barton "has voluntarily consented to the appointment of a receiver. He intends to work closely with the receiver in an effort to ensure that the investors, many of whom are friends and relatives, do not lose their money."
Triton co-sponsors the Heisman Trophy Trust, an organization that annually honors the player judged best in college football. The SEC complaint filed in federal court in Austin alleged that Triton used former football players as well as stockbrokers and other salespeople to promote securities and recruit potential investors.
The investment advisory firm has raised more than $50 million for at least 40 ventures since 2004, according to the complaint. "By associating with former football stars, they were able to build a facade of legitimacy and gain investor trust," said Rose Romero, the director of the SEC's Fort Worth regional office.
Barton and Triton, which has been registered with the Texas State Securities Board as an investment advisory firm since June 2006, have consented to court orders freezing their assets.
The SEC seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement of illegal gains and financial penalties. It also wants an asset freeze and appointment of a receiver for defendants' assets and operations.