Peter Pocklington—the former NHL team owner-turned-medical device company founder, and current subject of fraud charges brought by the SEC—has hired white-collar lawyer Becky James, who recently served on Bill Cosby’s legal team.
In April, the SEC claimed Pocklington and five others defrauded investors out of $14 million through unregistered offerings when his company, Nova Oculus Partners, solicited funds without disclosing Pocklington’s previous felony convictions for securities fraud. The agency also alleged that Pocklington misappropriated over $600,000 of investor funds, paying off personal legal bills and credit card debts, as well as financing his own gold mining ventures.
In a statement sent to reporters, Pocklington and his California-based company called the case against them “specious, ill-founded and inaccurate.”
“We are confident our top-flight attorneys will launch an aggressive counter-attack that will reveal the SEC’s spurious allegations for the sham they are,” said Pocklington, who is famous for trading away Wayne Gretzky while owner of the Edmonton Oilers in 1988, as well as being taken hostage during a 1982 kidnapping attempt.
The SEC said that in 2010, Pocklington pleaded guilty to a federal felony perjury charge and was later ordered to pay over $5 million in a settlement for unrelated state securities fraud and registration charges.
His company, Nova Oculus, formerly known as The Eye Machine, is focused on developing an electrotherapy treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration, which Pocklington has said he suffers from.
The SEC’s complaint (PDF) describes how the company paid millions in undisclosed and excessive sales commissions to defendants Yolanda C. Velazquez, Vanessa Puleo, and Robert A. Vanetten, who acted as unregistered brokers for the company.
Velazquez, previously barred from acting as a broker, and Puleo used “boiler room” operations in Florida to cold-call investors, and raised millions from over 260 people between 2014 and 2017, the agency claimed.
Pocklington’s new lawyer, James, is a high-stakes appellate specialist, and represented Cosby in court during his April retrial of criminal sexual assault charges. James will now represent Pocklington as well as the company’s in-house accountant Terrence J. Walton, and its majority shareholder, AMC Holdings, who are being charged with securities fraud violations.