TOILET-PAPER CAPER: Tipster Told FBI That Some Of Trevor Cook’s Ponzi Loot Was Stashed Behind Bathroom Tissue Dispenser; In Blistering Memo, SEC Says Cook’s Word ‘Not Worth The Paper That It Is Written On’

Trevor Cook

“Based on his track record, there is no reason to doubt — and every reason to believe — that [Trevor] Cook is hiding assets, and that he can do much, much more to recover stolen funds. Why else would Cook send millions of dollars to 14 foreign countries, including Dubai, Cyprus, Greece, Belize, Antigua, England, Germany, Denmark, Mexico, Canada, Panama, Costa Rica, Jordan, and Switzerland?” — SEC, Sept. 24, 2010

On July 21 — six months after Trevor Cook had been jailed for contempt of court in a civil case brought by the SEC, and three months after he had pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to cooperate with investigators — the FBI received a tip that led agents to the home of Cook’s brother Graham.

“The investigation involved assets hidden in Graham Cook’s home in ‘air ducts,’ in ‘ceiling rafters,’ and behind a ‘toilet paper dispenser,'” the SEC said yesterday.

The FBI “learned about the assets through a tip, not from Cook,” the SEC stressed, arguing that Cook’s earlier pledge to cooperate to make victims as whole as possible was virtually meaningless.

Agents later found even more loot stashed at a Minnesota shopping mall, the SEC said.

All in all, federal agents “ultimately recovered over $200,000 in cash, over 2,000 gold and silver coins (worth an additional $200,000), numerous Rolex watches, and valuable sports memorabilia” from the home, the SEC advised Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of the District of Minnesota.

Meanwhile, at the mall, agents summoned by a security guard found “118 gold and platinum coins, as well as ‘stocks of different currency denominations from different foreign countries to include Iraqi Dinars, Turkish Lira, [and] Dominican Republic, Canadian, and Asian currencies,'” the SEC said.

The money stashed at the mall was recovered July 24, three days after the FBI recovered the cash from Graham Cook’s home, the SEC said.

Davis had jailed Trevor Cook in January for ignoring orders in the civil case. In August, he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum, who presided over the criminal aspect of the case brought by federal prosecutors.

Now, the SEC says Cook never purged the contempt citation in the civil case and should remain jailed until he does. The blistering filing suggests that, in theory, the clock may not start running on Cook’s 25-year sentence in the criminal case until he purges the civil contempt.

Some defendants jailed for contempt in civil cases involving large sums of money have remained behind bars for years, the SEC noted.

Going against the prosecution’s recommendation, Rosenbaum did not give Cook credit for time served in the civil case when sentencing the Ponzi schemer last month.

“I will tell you that I will not purge him of that contempt,” Rosenbaum said from the bench last month, according to a transcript of the proceeding in sentencing court. “That is an order of my Chief and that is his choice.”

In a memo to Davis, the SEC said Trevor Cook simply cannot be trusted.

“This Court ruled that Cook would remain incarcerated unless and until he performed 11 duties, including repatriating over $27 million from overseas, recovering over $6 million in preferential payments, and surrendering $2 million from domestic accounts, among others,” the SEC argued.

“Since then, Cook has repatriated $0 from overseas, has recovered $0 in preferential payments, and has surrendered $0 from domestic accounts,” the agency continued. “Yet Cook now asks to be released [from the contempt citation], based on the notion that he has done everything that he can do, and based on his promise to be helpful in the future. He gives his word.

“With all due respect, Cook’s word is not worth the paper that it is written on,” the SEC argued to Davis.

Any bid by Cook to argue he has cooperated with investigators and genuinely sought to purge the contempt citation is defeated by the facts of the case, the SEC argued.

“Cook promises that he is not hiding anything — honest — but Cook’s credibility has long since run out. As Judge Rosenbaum stated: ‘You haven’t got a clue what the difference is between the truth and a lie. The two words mean nothing to you,'” the SEC said, citing Rosenbaum’s courtroom comments to the Ponzi schemer.

And Cook is thumbing his nose at both the court and victims, the SEC said.

“Despite holding the keys to the jailhouse gates in his pocket, Cook has chosen to stay in jail, presumably in the hope of reaping a bounty someday,” the SEC said. “That is his choice, but he cannot now be heard to complain that his detention continues. Cook cannot secure his release by offering self-serving statements and empty promises.

“One of Cook’s victims said it best at the sentencing hearing: ‘If he wanted to help, he’s been sitting in jail since January. He could have helped recover any money that there was between now and then. Promises now of being able to help in the future are ridiculous. It’s just not acceptable,'” the SEC argued, quoting a statement from a victim.

Even as Cook professes to be cooperative, a laundry list of unanswered questions remains, the SEC said:

  • What were the circumstances surrounding each overseas transfer?
  • Who did Cook interact with concerning each transfer?
  • In particular, who did Cook communicate with at the foreign banks?
  • Who helped him create the accounts and/or wire the funds?
  • How much money was in each account at the time of the entry of the Asset
    Freeze Order?
  • Where are the account statements?
  • What, if anything, has he done to obtain the account statements and all other financial records?
  • Did Cook transfer any funds from those foreign accounts to other foreign or domestic accounts? If so, where, when, and how much? And why?
  • What role did Cook play in creating the accounts in the first place?
  • What was the purpose of the offshore accounts?
  • What was the purpose of each transfer?
  • Who are the signatories? Who else had access to the funds in the accounts?
  • What are the passwords?
  • If Cook has no access to the accounts, as he suggests, then how does he know that the accounts lost money in trading?
  • What, if anything, has he done to return the funds to the United States?
  • What, if anything, has prevented him from simply contacting the foreign institutions and having them return the money?

Indeed, the SEC said, question-and-answer sessions involving the agency, Cook and R.J. Zayed, the court-appointed receiver, “were remarkable for [Cook’s] inability to remember and answer straightforward questions.”

Although Cook has the keys to the contempt cell, he has chosen not to use them, the SEC argued.

“Cook cannot lighten his burden by claiming that he has already sat in jail for eight months,” the agency said. By definition, there is no time limit for civil contempt. Sanctions for civil contempt include ‘confining a contemnor indefinitely until he complies.'”

Meanwhile, one of Cook’s victims told the PP Blog late last night that Cook showed no respect for victims and set aside money to gamble even after the SEC probe began 16 months ago.

A court filing suggests a bid was made to route the gambling money through Antigua.

“The United States suggested I give you credit for the time which you have served, and I shan’t do that,” Judge Rosenbaum told Cook in sentencing court, according to the transcript. “You’re not doing my time, you’re in jail as a contempt order. That’s called
dead time. That’s Judge Davis’s sentence. It’s not mine.

“So whatever you’ve done up until now counts zero against the sentence I’m imposing. And as far as I’m concerned, but it’s not my opinion that matters, you’re still in contempt,
and whether or not they’re going to run your time till you purge yourself with my brother, that’s up to somebody else,” Rosenbaum said.

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  3. […] of the money linked to the Cook scheme literally was found jammed inside of walls. Other loot was found in a shopping-mall […]