A 47-year-old Delray Beach man has agreed not to contest allegations that he defrauded nearly $2.8 million from 11 investors.
To settle a lawsuit filed against him by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Anthony Cottone agreed to repay any ill-gotten gains and promised not to violate securities laws in the future, according to papers filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach.
In signing the agreement, Cottone said he was not admitting to allegations that he used investors’ money for himself and various business ventures, including a failed auto dealership. But the agreement also prohibits him from publicly denying the accusations.
Botanica Group Holdings, which Cottone operated through his Boca Raton-based Retirement Planning Institute, was also sued by the SEC and inked a similar settlement.
As part of the scheme that operated for four months in 2017, Cottone touted his credentials as a certified financial planner to lure people to invest in the sale of preferred interest in a fund he operated, attorneys for the SEC wrote. Investors were promised 12% annual interest.
Investors were also told that any commissions would go to a registered broker-dealer. Cottone was neither, SEC attorneys wrote.
Further, they said, Cottone failed to tell investors that in 2015, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in federal court in Pennsylvania for helping others sell drugs on the internet to people without prescriptions.
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation in 2018 refused his request for a license, saying Cottone made false statements about the conviction on his application, the attorneys said.
His license as a certified financial planner was yanked in March 2020 after the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred him from having any association with a FINRA member after Cottone failed to respond to an investor complaint.
No date has been set for Cottone to appear in court.