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International

Eyecare company chief accused of fraud hires Cosby lawyer

06/08/2018
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Controversial US eyecare company founder Mr Peter Pocklington has hired Bill Cosby’s lawyer to represent him in a multi-million dollar fraud lawsuit filed against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Pocklington – a former National Hockey League team owner who ventured into eyecare medical devices – and five other defendants were charged by the SEC in April for allegedly defrauding investors of out US$14 million (AU$18.92 m). The SEC alleges Pocklington’s company, Nova Oculus Partners, solicited funds without disclosing previous felony charges.

According to the SEC, Pocklington and his attorney, Mr Lantson Eldred, had made it appear that Nova Oculus was owned by Eldred in an effort to hide Pocklington’s involvement in the company, after the latter had been forced to pay more than US$5 million (AU$6.76 m) in a 2010 settlement for unrelated state securities fraud and registration charges.

Peter Pocklington, Nova Oculus
Peter Pocklington, Nova Oculus

Furthermore, medical new website FierceBiotech.com has reported that the agency also alleged that Pocklington misappropriated more than US$600,000 (AU$810,870) of investor funds by paying off personal legal bills and credit card debts, as well as financing unrelated gold mining ventures. Cosby’s former lawyer, Ms Becky James, is set to represent Pocklington as well as the company’s in-house accountant Mr Terrence Walton, and its majority shareholder, AMC Holdings in the case.

James recently represented Cosby in his high-profile retrial in which he pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges.

Pocklington’s company, previously known as The Eye Machine, is said to be developing electrotherapy treatments for age-related macular degeneration.

After the lawsuit was announced, Pocklington released a statement denying the charges, which he labelled “specious, ill-founded and inaccurate”, adding: “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.”

Also contained in the SEC’s complaint are allegations that the company paid millions of dollars in undisclosed and excessive commissions to co-defendants Ms Yolanda Velazquez, Ms Vanessa Puleo, and Mr Robert Vanetten who acted as unregistered brokers for Nova Oculus.

Velazquez, who had already been barred from acting as a broker, and Puleo allegedly used “boiler room” tactics to convince more than 260 people to invest millions in the company.

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