Storyteller and filmmaker Malcolm "Mac" Parker is under investigation for violating state securities laws, according to court papers.
Paulette Thabault, commissioner of the State Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, confirmed investigators are looking at whether the Addison resident violated state law by soliciting funding for a movie called "The Birth of Innocence." The website that described the project and sought donors is no longer available. The state says neither he nor the movie are registered to collect investments.
"It's selling an unregistered security by an unregistered person," Thabault said. "That's the violation we're concerned about."
Parker gained famed in the 1980s and 1990s as a storyteller, creating a video called "Let's Go to the Farm," and entertaining crowds at First Night celebrations in Burlington.
According to papers filed in Washington County Superior Court, Parker promised returns of "as much as 30% interest on investments" in his movie. Some 200 people gave "amounts ranging from $100 to $500,000."
Court papers filed in connection with the lawsuit suggest there may be other legal concerns. According to the affidavit signed by BISHCA attorney Peter Young, Parker "admitted that he must continually raise money from new investors to pay personal expenses and repay other investors." If investigators find that statement is true, it could be considered an illegal strategy called a Ponzi scheme.
"Certainly that's something we're looking at during the investigative process," Thabault said, "but it isn't anything we have found at this point."
A phone call to the Addison number listed for Parker was not returned by the Channel 3 News deadline.
"We know there are well over 200 investors involved and over $10 million at this point, and those numbers certainly may grow," Thabault said, noting the investigation is in the early stages and no criminal activity has been alleged. A judge has granted BISHCA's motion for further investigation.
"That accounting will help us understand what money has been collected and how that money has been paid out," she said. "Certainly if we become aware of any indications there is some activity, whether it be fraud or other criminal activity, we would be making the appropriate referral to the attorney general's office."
Thabault said investors should always check to make sure investments they are considering are registered. That can help protect them against possible fraud. The website http://www.saveandinvest.org/ can be a good starting point.
"If they're being offered an opportunity that sounds to good to be true," she said, "it may very well be too good to be true. They should always check about the validity of the offering."
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