Peter Pocklington, former owner of the hockey's Edmonton Oilers, has been accused by Arizona officials of scamming investors out of millions with bogus claims about a gold mine in La Paz County.
This one has echoes of a ripoff we wrote about last week from the late '80s called the Pannos Mine. One of the Pannos brothers from that scam, Christopher, is behind solar firm Matinee Energy, which wants to do business in Benson.
Pocklington's plan was similar to that of Pannos': Cold calls were made to unsuspecting folks, probably senior citizens. Victims were invited to buy shares in the mining operation, with huge returns on their money promised. A modern spin was added: Pocklington's companies, Crystal Pistol Resources, LLC, (which has an address in Scottsdale) and Liberty Bell, had a slick Web site -- www.goldnuggetmine.com -- that advertised the mine as a big producer.
The hokey reports put out by the companies present a "flawed analysis" that exaggerates the mine's ability to produce gold, say documents from the Arizona Corporation Commission.
The Commission has hit Pocklington and his companies with charges of violating various securities laws and demands that he pay back the millions he received from investors, plus up to $5,000 for each violation.
Documents show that Crystal raked in at least $4.8 million from more than a hundred investors in 2010 and 2011, while Liberty Bell took several dozen investors for about $1.5 million this year.
Though news about Pocklington was broken earlier this week on a couple of news sites, including a brief in the Phoenix Business Journal, the story's starting to gain steam in the Canadian media.
The Wikipedia page about Pocklington mentions that the Canadian entrepreneur and former hockey team owner has given several million bucks to charity, but also that he's been a unscrupulous deadbeat while living in California in the last few years.
Crystal Pistol issued a statement by company manager Howard Eaton denying the claims: "Our company emphatically disagrees with the allegations made by the Arizona Corporation Commission."
In cases like this, such denials ought to be backed up with suitcases full of gold ingots.