By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Connecticut businessman pleaded guilty on Friday to pocketing money he made selling antiques instead of using it to pay a judgment he owed U.S. regulators for illegal stock trading.
Robert Olins, the former CEO of now-defunct television display maker SpatiaLight Inc, pleaded guilty in open court to conspiring to obstruct justice and to money laundering before U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan federal court.
He agreed to give up $657,000 to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and to a court-appointed receiver to which he also owes money.
Olins is set to be sentenced on September 29. He has agreed not to appeal any sentence less than three years and five months. His attorney declined to comment after the plea hearing.
Olins, 59, was arrested last August.
According to a criminal complaint, he made $657,000 selling antiques in 2012, the year after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission won a $3.4 million judgment against him.
Authorities say Olins conspired with an antiques dealer to hide the sale from a court-appointed receiver tasked with helping the SEC collect the judgment.
The $3.4 million judgment stemmed from a 2007 lawsuit by the SEC against Olins, SpatiaLight and Olins’ wholly-owned company Argyle Capital Management Corp.
The SEC contended that Olins and Argyle illegally sold more than 400,000 shares of SpatiaLight stock without disclosing the sales.
In 2012, a Manhattan federal judge appointed Oklahoma-based American Bank and Trust Company as receiver to help satisfy the judgment by overseeing the sale of pieces in Olins’ arts and antiques collection, which has been appraised at $8.6 million to $13.8 million.
The receiver itself had lent Argyle $3.5 million in 2003, of which $2.6 million remained unpaid. The proceeds of the sale were to be used to pay the receiver, the SEC and other creditors.
The antiques dealer accused of conspiring with Olins, Henry Neville, was also charged with bank fraud and obstructing justice in May of this year. He has pleaded guilty, but has not been sentenced, according to court records.
Neville was director of New York operations for antiques dealing company Mallett Inc from 2006 until some time last year. He is no longer listed on Mallett’s website, and an employee of the company declined to comment on Friday.
SpaciaLight went out of business in February 2011 after filing for bankruptcy and being liquidated.
The case is USA v. Olins, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-00861.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York, additional reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay)