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United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. Kenneth R. Payne

February 18, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge United States District Court


Presently before the Court is Plaintiff United States Securities and Exchange Commission's ("SEC") Supplemental Motion for Permanent Injunction against Defendant Kenneth Payne. [Dkt. 32.]



The SEC filed this civil action against Mr. Payne in August 2000-one month before he was indicted for eleven counts of mail fraud and twenty counts of money laundering. United States v. Payne, 62 Fed. Appx. 648, 649 (7th Cir. 2003). Mr. Payne later pled guilty to five counts of mail fraud and to one count of money laundering. Id. at 650. The facts presented by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Mr. Payne's direct criminal appeal provide the context for the SEC's civil action against Mr. Payne:

Kenneth Richard Payne was the founder and president of Heartland Financial Services, Inc. ("Heartland"), an investment and financial planning firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1991 until its closure in September 2000, Heartland sold various investment securities to more than 600 clients. As of January 1996, Payne managed most of the assets of Heartland as a classic Ponzi scheme. Payne and his subordinates received funds from investors by promoting certain investment packages and securities offered by the company, but the vast majority of these funds were never invested. Instead, most of the investors' funds were deposited into an escrow bank account controlled by Heartland. The funds were then disbursed for the personal use of Payne and his colleagues, or to further the scheme by paying Heartland's operating expenses, travel for investors, or artificial returns on investments.

On August 10, 2000, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil action to shut down Heartland's business operations.[*fn1 ] Shortly thereafter, a receiver was appointed by the court to oversee the liquidation of Heartland's inventory/assets and to make distributions to the company's investors and creditors. On October 25, 2000, Payne was indicted for 11 counts of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1342, and 20 counts of money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) and (2). He was then charged by information on January 7, 2002 with one count of money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957. Payne entered into a plea agreement with the government that same day, pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(e)(1)(C), pleading guilty to counts 1 through 5 of the indictment (mail fraud) and to the single count information (money laundering). The plea agreement provided for a maximum of 262 months' imprisonment, but reserved the question of financial loss to investors for determination by the district court at the sentencing phase . . .

The district court . . . conclud[ed] that the loss caused by his criminal conduct exceeded $20 million. Based on this determination, the court sentenced Payne to 211 months' imprisonment.

Id. at 649-51. The Court also ordered Mr. Payne to pay $27,295,680.76 in restitution. [Dkts. 20 at 2; 26 at 1.] The Seventh Circuit affirmed Mr. Payne's sentence on appeal. Payne, 62 Fed. Appx. at 649.

The SEC brought this civil enforcement action against Mr. Payne and others, alleging six counts of violations of the Securities Act, the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5.*fn2 [Dkt. 20-1 at 13-19.] The Complaint alleges that Mr. Payne, working through Heartland and JMS Investment Group, LLC ("JMS"), violated and aided and abetted violations of the federal securities laws by defrauding more than 330 investors in thirteen states through the sale of investment opportuni- ties. [Dkt. 20-1 at 1, 6.] Heartland was held out to be a broker-dealer and accepted money from customers to purchase unit investment trusts, money markets, and mutual funds. [Id. at 6.] Regardless of the investment opportunity selected by an investor, most of the investor's funds were deposited into a non-interest bearing bank account in the name of Lincoln Fidelity Escrow (the "Lincoln account"). [Dkt. 20-1 at 6, 11.] From March 1999 through April 2000, $28,200,000 million was deposited into the Lincoln account. [Dkt. 20-1 at 11.] Approximately $1,800,000 of this amount was used to purchase legitimate securities. [Id. at 12.]

The SEC moved for summary judgment against Mr. Payne in October 2010. [Dkt. 19.] The Court entered summary judgment against Mr. Payne on Counts I through VI of the SEC's Complaint but did not enter a permanent injunction at that time. [Dkt. 30.] The SEC filed a proposed permanent injunction in January 2011.



After proving a violation of federal securities laws, the SEC may obtain a permanent injunction against future violations if there is a reasonable likelihood of future violations. SEC v. Church Extension of the Church of God, 429 F. Supp. 2d 1045, 1048 (S.D. Ind. 2005); see also SEC v. Holschuh, 694 F.2d 130, 144 (7th Cir. 1982). In making this evaluation, the Court considers the gravity of harm caused by the violation, the extent of the defendant's participation and the degree of scienter, whether the violations were isolated or recurring, the likelihood that a defendant's customary business activities might involve him in similar transactions again, the defendant's recognition of his culpability, and the sincerity of assurances from the defendant that he will not violate the ...

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