SOUTH BEND, IN. - December 19, 2001 - Thirty victims of the Spectrum investment fraud scheme will be removed from legal limbo and recover a total of $1.6 million-$2 million as a result of the decision today by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harry C. Dees, Jr. to approve a motion by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) to consolidate the proceedings against Spectrum Investment Services, Inc., and three related entities.
In the absence of today's action, Spectrum's investment advisor service customers might not have been eligible for the protections of SIPC, which maintains a special reserve fund authorized by Congress to help investors at bankrupt brokerage firms. In January 2001, SIPC stepped in to take over Spectrum Investment Services, Inc., after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission found irregular activities. That same month, Spectrum President Mary Lou Sanders was charged in federal court by the United States with criminal activities related to Spectrum Investment Services, Inc. Ms. Sanders, who fled the U.S., is being sought by the FBI as an international fugitive.
Sanders is believed to have misappropriated as much as $3.5 million under the auspices of four interlocked entities. As of November 30, 2001, SIPC had processed a total of 167 claims from investors. Almost all of the claims were resolved swiftly. However, a total of 30 Spectrum investors who had dealt with Sanders through Spectrum's unlicensed investment advisory affiliate were in a "gray area" that could have been construed as falling outside of the scope of SIPC's protections designed specifically for brokerage firm customers. The SIPC-requested consolidation of the four Spectrum entities will free up between $1.6 million and $2 million for the Spectrum investment advisory clients.
The Spectrum case follows closely on the heels of a record-setting case handled by SIPC. On October 2, 2001, SIPC announced a record payment of $177 million to restore stocks and cash to 175,000 investors due to a default by MJK Clearing, Inc. MJK Clearing, Inc., is the parent company of Miller Johnson Steichen Kinnard, Inc., a full-service brokerage firm headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota with 400 investment executives in eight states.