SEC accuses local man of role in Ponzi scheme

Staff Reports 

On Nov. 25, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against Brett Pittsenbargar, a Texas-based external sales agent for Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC, and his wholly-owned alter ego company, for illegally selling Woodbridge securities and other securities in unregistered transactions to retail investors while acting as an unregistered broker. 

According to the SEC’s complaint, from at least November 2012 to December 2016, Pittsenbargar and his alter-ego company, MGM Home Remodeling LLC f/k/a BP Financials, LLC d/b/a BP Financial & Tax Design Group (BP Financials), raised more than $18 million by selling Woodbridge securities in unregistered transactions to at least 45 retail investors located in at least four states. 

Pittsenbargar, who is a resident of Steiner Ranch, was not registered with the SEC and the report states he allegedly received approximately $1 million in transaction-based compensation, according to a lawsuit filed against him by the SEC.

The SEC announcement states that it previously “charged Woodbridge and its former owner, Robert H. Shapiro, and 19 of Woodbridge’s other highest-earning unregistered brokers with allegedly stealing over a billion dollars from thousands of retail investors, many of them seniors, as part of a massive Ponzi scheme. In January 2019, a federal court in Florida ordered Woodbridge, its related companies, and Shapiro to pay a combined $1 billion for operating this Ponzi scheme. The SEC also charged Woodbridge’s two former directors of investments for their roles in the scheme.”

According to an article by the Austin American-Statesman, “Shapiro was sentenced to 25 years in prison (in October) after pleading guilty to mail and wire fraud and tax evasion stemming from the scheme. He’s currently in federal custody.”