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This case was last updated from PACER on 05/21/2021 at 08:29:40 (UTC).

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Wootten et al

Case Summary

On March 22, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), represented by Alise Johnson Attorney at the Securities & Exchange Commission’s Florida Regional Office, filed a civil enforcement action against Jason P. Wooten; Ronald Frank Stevenson; Family Tree Estate Planning, LLC; and American Financial Security, LLC (“Defendants”), seeking injunctive relief, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains along with prejudgment interest thereon, and civil money penalties for allegedly defrauding investors and violating the federal securities laws. This case was filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Arizona with Judge G. Murray Snow presiding.

 

In its complaint, the SEC alleged that “From approximately October 2016 through February 2020, Defendants Jason P. Wootten (“Wootten”) and his company Family Tree Estate Planning, LLC (‘Family Tree”) acted as unregistered brokers on behalf of investment funds (“EquiAlt Funds”) managed by EquiAlt, LLC (“EquiAlt”). They raised at least $32 million from the unregistered offer and sale of securities of the EquiAlt Funds to more than 300 retail investors most of whom are located in Arizona. From these sales, these Defendants received approximately $3.7 million in transaction-based sales commissions. From approximately February 2016 through January 2020, Defendants Ronald Frank Stevenson (“Stevenson”) and his company American Financial Security, LLC (“AFS”) also acted as unregistered brokers on behalf of the EquiAlt Funds. They raised at least $19 million from the unregistered offer and sale of securities in the EquiAlt Funds to more than 250 retail investors located in Arizona and California. From these sales, these Defendants received approximately $1.7 million in transaction-based sales commissions.” The SEC also alleged that “Out of the $170 million that EquiAlt raised from investors, Defendants Stevenson and AFS raised approximately $19 million from the unregistered offer and sale of the EquiAlt Funds’ securities to more than 100 retail investors. Many of these investors were unaccredited, unsophisticated, and elderly people who invested through their IRA accounts. Although the Defendants purportedly offered the EquiAlt securities under a Rule 506(b) exemption to registration, the offering did not qualify as such because many of the investors were neither accredited nor sophisticated. Furthermore, the Defendants did not provide an audited balance sheet or financial statements to the unaccredited EquiAlt investors. Consequently, the Defendants engaged in unregistered securities transactions for which an exemption from registration did not apply.”

 

The SEC further alleged that “At all relevant times, the Defendants were not registered as broker-dealers with the Commission or associated with a registered broker-dealer. EquiAlt’s securities offerings were not registered with the Commission and there was no applicable exemption from registration for these offerings.” 

 

There are two claims for relief laid down by the SEC. The first claim is for the alleged violation of Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act [15 U.S.C. §§ 77e(a) and 77e(c)]; and the second claim is for the alleged violation of Section 15(a)(1) of the Exchange Act [15 U.S.C. § 78o(a)(1)]. 

 

In its prayer for relief, the SEC has requested the court to issue a Permanent Injunction enjoining Defendants from violating Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act and Section 15(a)(1) of the Exchange Act; order disgorgement of gains and pre-judgment interest; and issue an Order directing Defendants Wootten and Family Tree to pay civil money penalties on a joint and several basis pursuant to Section 20(d) of the Securities Act and Section 21(d) of the Exchange Act.

 

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Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    2:21-CV-00482

  • Filing Date:

    03/22/2021

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Finance - Security/Commodity/Exchange

  • Court:

    U.S. District Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Arizona District

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

G Murray Snow

 

Party Details

Plaintiff

Securities and Exchange Commission

Defendants

American Financial Security LLC

Family Tree Estate Planning LLC

Ronald Frank Stevenson

Jason P Wootten

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff Attorney

Alise Johnson

Attorney at Securities & Exchange Commission - Miami, FL

801 Brickell Ave., Ste. 1950

Miami, FL 33131

 

Court Documents

#8

(#8) SERVICE EXECUTED filed by Securities and Exchange Commission: Rule 4 Waiver of Service of Summons. Waiver sent on 03/23/2021 to Ronald Frank Stevenson . (Johnson, Alise) (Entered: 03/29/2021)

#7

(#7) SERVICE EXECUTED filed by Securities and Exchange Commission: Rule 4 Waiver of Service of Summons. Waiver sent on 03/23/2021 to Jason P. Wootten . (Johnson, Alise) (Entered: 03/29/2021)

#6

(#6) SERVICE EXECUTED filed by Securities and Exchange Commission: Rule 4 Waiver of Service of Summons. Waiver sent on 03/23/2021 to Family Tree Estate Planning LLC . (Johnson, Alise) (Entered: 03/29/2021)

#5

(#5) SERVICE EXECUTED filed by Securities and Exchange Commission: Rule 4 Waiver of Service of Summons. Waiver sent on 03/23/2021 to American Financial Security, LLC . (Johnson, Alise) (Entered: 03/29/2021)

4 #3

Summons

4 #2

Summons

4 #1

Summons

#4

(#4) Summons Issued as to American Financial Security LLC, Family Tree Estate Planning LLC, Ronald Frank Stevenson, Jason P Wootten. (Attachments: #1 Summons, #2 Summons, #3 Summons)(BAC). *** IMPORTANT: When printing the summons, select "Document and stamps" or "Document and comments" for the seal to appear on the document. (Entered: 03/22/2021)

#3

(#3) This case has been assigned to the Honorable Chief Judge G Murray Snow. All future pleadings or documents should bear the correct case number: CV-21-00482-PHX-GMS. Notice of Availability of Magistrate Judge to Exercise Jurisdiction form attached. (BAC) (Entered: 03/22/2021)

#2

(#2) SUMMONS Submitted by Securities and Exchange Commission. (Johnson, Alise) (BAC) (Entered: 03/22/2021)

1 #1

Civil Cover Sheet

#1

(#1) COMPLAINT filed by Securities and Exchange Commission. (Johnson, Alise) (Attachments: #1 Civil Cover Sheet)(BAC) (Entered: 03/22/2021)

 

Docket Entries

  • 03/29/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#8) SERVICE EXECUTED filed by Securities and Exchange Commission: Rule 4 Waiver of Service of Summons. Waiver sent on 03/23/2021 to Ronald Frank Stevenson . (Johnson, Alise) (Entered: 03/29/2021)

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  • 03/29/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#7) SERVICE EXECUTED filed by Securities and Exchange Commission: Rule 4 Waiver of Service of Summons. Waiver sent on 03/23/2021 to Jason P. Wootten . (Johnson, Alise) (Entered: 03/29/2021)

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  • 03/29/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#6) SERVICE EXECUTED filed by Securities and Exchange Commission: Rule 4 Waiver of Service of Summons. Waiver sent on 03/23/2021 to Family Tree Estate Planning LLC . (Johnson, Alise) (Entered: 03/29/2021)

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  • 03/29/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#5) SERVICE EXECUTED filed by Securities and Exchange Commission: Rule 4 Waiver of Service of Summons. Waiver sent on 03/23/2021 to American Financial Security, LLC . (Johnson, Alise) (Entered: 03/29/2021)

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  • 03/22/2021
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  • Docket(#4) Summons Issued as to American Financial Security LLC, Family Tree Estate Planning LLC, Ronald Frank Stevenson, Jason P Wootten. (Attachments: #1 Summons, #2 Summons, #3 Summons)(BAC). *** IMPORTANT: When printing the summons, select "Document and stamps" or "Document and comments" for the seal to appear on the document. (Entered: 03/22/2021)

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  • 03/22/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#3) This case has been assigned to the Honorable Chief Judge G Murray Snow. All future pleadings or documents should bear the correct case number: CV-21-00482-PHX-GMS. Notice of Availability of Magistrate Judge to Exercise Jurisdiction form attached. (BAC) (Entered: 03/22/2021)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 03/22/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#2) SUMMONS Submitted by Securities and Exchange Commission. (Johnson, Alise) (BAC) (Entered: 03/22/2021)

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  • 03/22/2021
  • View Court Documents
  • Docket(#1) COMPLAINT filed by Securities and Exchange Commission. (Johnson, Alise) (Attachments: #1 Civil Cover Sheet)(BAC) (Entered: 03/22/2021)

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