Hookin' for Dollars

From streetwalker to Wall Street, Candy Wilson has flown high and fallen hard. Now, her failing brokerage and anti-porn Internet company have left a trail of angry investors.

When it came time to expand her business in 2000, Candy Wilson turned to another widow.

Evelyn Simmons and her late husband, William, had started a stock brokerage firm called Simmons & Bishop in 1984.

Former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese (above) hawks Mayberry USA in a newspaper advertisement. Mayberry USA's Web site, www.mayberryusa.net (above right), is defunct.
Former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese (above) hawks Mayberry USA in a newspaper advertisement. Mayberry USA's Web site, www.mayberryusa.net (above right), is defunct.

Over the years, the business expanded and thrived under the day-to-day direction of William Simmons, until his death in 1999. At that time, Evelyn Simmons turned the daily management of the company over to other employees while she devoted time to her insurance agency.

Within a year, Evelyn Simmons had determined she wanted to sell the brokerage business.

Wilson learned that Evelyn Simmons wanted to sell her company, and friendly discussions soon began. At one point during the negotiations, Wilson and Simmons joked about being "blonde bimbos" trying to make it in the business world.

Wilson, according to a lawsuit filed by Simmons & Bishop, continued to cozy up to Evelyn Simmons.

And Evelyn Simmons bit.

She trusted Wilson to such a degree that she signed a sales agreement that allowed Wilson to take over her company with $100,000 in promissory notes and promises to pay her a percentage of former Simmons & Bishop brokers' commissions.

A testament to her trust is that Evelyn Simmons did not demand that Wilson or Arizona Capital post any collateral for the promissory notes -- despite concerns raised by her accountants.

The sales agreement was signed November 9, 2000. Wilson took over the Simmons & Bishop accounts and began earning commissions.

The first $25,000 promissory note came due on February 28, 2001.

Wilson refused to pay.

Instead, Wilson filed a lawsuit claiming Simmons & Bishop had withheld important information during the negotiations, forcing Wilson to fix numerous problems at the company. As a result, Wilson claimed in the suit, she should not have to pay for the company. Simmons & Bishop filed a countersuit alleging Wilson committed fraud and breach of contract.

Twenty-one months later, Evelyn Simmons still hasn't been paid by Wilson for the company she and her late husband owned for 16 years. She claims in an affidavit that Arizona Capital owes her $246,700 from the sale of the company.

The heart of the lawsuit is disclosure. Wilson contends Evelyn Simmons failed to disclose material information about her company. But Wilson kept a dirty secret from Simmons, too. She never disclosed her prostitution arrests.

"Evelyn Simmons relied upon Candy Wilson's good moral character in selling the business," court records state. "And [Simmons] would not have, in fact, sold the business had she known that Candy Wilson had previously been a hooker."

Phillip Mauro Nuciola III is one of Wilson's top brokers.

He's a big guy who drives a tricked-out Mercedes to work. His wife and kids are back in upstate New York since moving out to Scottsdale in September 1999.

Wilson turns to Nuciola like the Diamondbacks rely on Byung-Hyun Kim. Nuciola's the closer who comes in to seal a deal. Wilson teamed up with Nuciola to promote Mayberry USA stock to investors across the country.

But Nuciola has also sold plenty of other stocks for Arizona Capital. Nuciola makes his money through commissions. And the only way to earn commissions is to get clients to buy and sell stocks -- even when they are not interested.

William Malavenda learned firsthand just how good Nuciola is at his trade.

Malavenda was in Mexico in February 2001 when he received two urgent phone messages from Nuciola.

Malavenda, a 66-year-old retiree on a fixed income, says he was reluctant to return the calls since they would be expensive at $1.25 a minute, but he did so anyway since he had never met Nuciola and had no idea what he wanted.

At the time, Arizona Capital was handling a small investment account Malavenda and his wife had scraped together -- $4,100 worth of AT&T stock. Arizona Capital had obtained Malavenda's account after it took over the Simmons & Bishop brokerage firm.

Malavenda knew nothing about the fallout between Arizona Capital and Simmons & Bishop. All he wanted was to keep his money in a safe investment.

"We are not the type to go out and invest where we are going to lose a whole lot of money," Malavenda says.

But that's just what happened after Nuciola took over the account.

Malavenda, who recently reached a settlement with Arizona Capital, declined to provide details of what happened. Nuciola declined to comment.

But New Times has obtained from another source a copy of Malavenda's request for arbitration from the National Association of Security Dealers. The NASD is a private organization that regulates the securities industry. NASD rules are approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to Malavenda's February 2, 2002, statement to the NASD, Nuciola "said he wanted me to sell my AT&T stock and purchase COVAD," a high-flying Internet company that marketed and installed DSL lines.

"Phil's comment was that COVAD would make me more money than AT&T, it was an excellent company and was making a big move into the market," Malavenda alleges in his NASD complaint.

Malavenda, according to his statement, says he wasn't interested in selling AT&T.

"Phil continued to push for me to sell AT&T," Malavenda claims. "Finally, I agreed under duress."

Ten days later, Malavenda returned from Mexico and received some shocking news.

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Jim Baker
Jim Baker

Interesting. I had Mayberry USA for a while and never had any trouble with it. I only left them because I wanted a lower cost ISP. I didn't even know they had gone under until now 9-28-09. Jim

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