The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that it has obtained a final judgment by consent against Pennsylvania attorney Todd H. Lahr for orchestrating a $1.4 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded at least 10 retail investors, including his own law clients.
The SEC’s complaint, filed on March 24, 2020 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleged that Lahr, together with co-defendant Thomas Megas of Switzerland, targeted Lahr’s clients to raise funds for several Megas-led business ventures, including mining operations in Papua New Guinea and real estate investments in Barcelona and London. Instead, Lahr and Megas allegedly used investor funds to pay earlier investors and for various personal expenses, including Lahr’s mortgage payments and credit card bills and Megas’ restaurant bills and ATM withdrawals.
In a parallel criminal action by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Fraud Section of the Department of Justice, Lahr pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
The final judgment against Lahr permanently enjoins him from violating the registration provisions of Sections 5(a) and (c) of the Securities Act of 1933, and the antifraud provisions of Sections 17(a)(1) and (3) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5(a) and (c) thereunder. The final judgment also orders Lahr to disgorge ill-gotten gains of $976,879 plus $179,888 in prejudgment interest, for a total of $1,156,767, which will be offset by the forfeiture and restitution ordered in the parallel criminal action.
In a related administrative proceeding, the SEC today issued an order permanently suspending Lahr from appearing and practicing before the SEC as an attorney.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Jonathan Shapiro, Sonia Torrico, and Cecilia Connor, with assistance from Donato Furlano, and supervised by Carolyn Welshhans and Amy Friedman. The SEC’s litigation, which continues against Megas, is being handled by Matthew Scarlato and supervised by Jan Folena. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Fraud Section of the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.