Craig Berkman has been arrested in Florida on criminal charges of securities fraud, reports Matthew Kish at the Business Journal.
Berkman served as the chairman of the Oregon GOP in the early 1990s, ran for national RNC chair, ran for Governor in 1994 (and floated a candidacy in 2002). For more than a decade, he was a very big deal in Oregon politics.
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday charged high-profile former Oregon financier Craig Berkman with defrauding investors who wanted to buy coveted pre-IPO shares of Facebook and other social media companies.
Berkman, 71, has also been arrested on criminal charges of securities fraud, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
He has been charged with two counts of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the four counts. He could be fined as much as $5 million or twice the gain on the securities fraud charges, as well as fines for the wire fraud charges.
A few years ago, the O's Jeff Mapes wrote up a fascinating profile of Berkman as he was facing down a civil lawsuit in Portland that charged him with misusing client funds in the 1990s.
Through it all, talking to Berkman was like getting a guided tour of the back corridors of big-time politics. He dropped more names than Joan Rivers on Oscar night, and he had plenty of tips for reporters. Sometimes they didn't pan out - one time during the 1992 campaign he breathlessly called me to say that one of the networks would air footage within the hour of Bill Clinton burning an American flag at a student protest. But I think he was also the first to tell me that the first Bush administration was calling Portland "Little Beirut" for its big street protests, a moniker that has stuck, at least in GOP circles.
Earlier this week, Berkman took the stand at his trial and, as reported by The Oregonian's Jeff Manning, tearfully admitted to a series of deceptions. He didn't really have assets of $25 million, as he told investors when he was raising cash for his investment funds, but was really $5 million in debt. And he admitted taking money from investors to shore up his own finances while disguising some of the transactions as stock purchases.
Still, Berkman insisted he paid back all of the money he took from investors, with interest. "I didn't steal any money," he said.