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Key investor in $100 million N.J. deli has a historical past of authorized issues, ties to criminals

Your Hometown Deli in Paulsboro, N.J.

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A key investor within the a mysterious $100 million company that owns only a tiny New Jersey deli has a historical past of authorized woes and ties to a number of individuals who have legal convictions or have been sanctioned by regulators.

They embrace a lawyer, an accounting agency and a former stockbroker who’ve performed work associated to the corporate, Hometown Worldwide. They’re linked to shareholder Peter Coker Sr., a 78-year-old North Carolina businessman.

Coker’s Hong Kong-based son, Peter Coker Jr., is chairman of Hometown International, whose Your Hometown Deli in Paulsboro, New Jersey, had gross sales of solely about $35,000 prior to now two years mixed.

Regardless of these meager gross sales, Hometown Worldwide had almost 8 million widespread shares of inventory excellent. On Monday, shares of the corporate rose 0.15% to $13.01.

Hometown Worldwide, which has traded on the over-the-counter market since 2019, catapulted out of obscurity final week after hedge fund supervisor David Einhorn mentioned its bizarrely high market capitalizaton in a letter to clients.

“Somebody pointed us to Hometown Worldwide (HWIN), which owns a single deli in rural New Jersey … HWIN reached a market cap of $113 million on February 8,” Einhorn wrote in Thursday’s letter. “The biggest shareholder can also be the CEO/CFO/Treasurer and a Director, who additionally occurs to be the wrestling coach of the high school next door to the deli. The pastrami should be wonderful.”

Hometown’s inventory hardly ever sees buying and selling quantity of greater than 1,000 shares. On some days it sees no trades. However on Friday, almost 43,000 shares modified palms. Slightly below 15,000 shares have been traded Monday.

The Coker net

Coker Sr. is one in every of a number of key shareholders in Hometown International mentioned in Securities and Exchange Commission filings, as are entities in Hong Kong and Macau, China.

Public filings present that the entities in Hong Kong are all positioned in the identical ground of the identical constructing there. That’s the case for the entities in Macau, as effectively. In Hong Kong, an investor named Manoj Jain, of Maso Capital Companions, has sole voting and funding energy over the Homeland Worldwide shares held by every of the three entities, data present.

Coker personally holds 63,334 shares of Hometown Widespread inventory, with warrants for one more 1.26 million shares. Coker Sr.’s personal firm, Tryon Capital, is being paid $15,000 per 30 days via a consulting contract with Hometown.

Coker Sr. has himself has been sued for allegedly hiding money from creditors and business-related fraud. He has denied wrongdoing in these instances, one in every of which settled out of courtroom in recent times in North Carolina. He didn’t return repeated requests for remark from CNBC.

His companion in Tryon Capital, Peter Reichard, in 2011 entered a plea in a criminal case that led to his conviction for a scheme to illegally contribute 1000’s of {dollars} to the profitable 2008 marketing campaign of Bev Perdue, who was elected that 12 months as North Carolina’s first feminine governor.

The scheme concerned using a bogus consulting contract between Tryon Capital Ventures and a fast-food franchisee who wished to assist Perdue. Coker Sr. was not charged in that case.

Reichard can also be a managing member, with Coker Sr., in an entity referred to as Europa Capital Investments, which owns 90,400 widespread shares of Hometown Worldwide, and has warrants for one more 1.9 million shares.

A footnote in Hometown’s annual report, filed final month with the SEC, says that Coker Sr. and Reichard “have joint voting and funding energy over the securities of the Firm held by Europa.”

Reichard didn’t return a name searching for remark.

Two years earlier than his 2011 plea discount, Reichard learned through a DNA test that his actual father was the famous spiritual leader and Ram Dass, the creator of the best-selling ebook “Be Right here Now.” Dass, who whereas working within the Nineteen Sixties as a Harvard psychology professor underneath his then-name Richard Alpert, turned with Timothy Leary a number one researcher of LSD. He later traveled to India, the place he turned a disciple of a guru.

Coker Sr., in the meantime, was a star basketball participant at North Carolina State College after a stellar highschool hoops profession in his native Allentown, Pennsylvania, and earlier than he launched his enterprise profession. At one level, he helped oversee pension fund investments at now-defunct Bethlehem Metal in Pennsylvania, in response to his on-line biography.

He has additionally confronted a great deal of authorized bother over time, together with some past the enterprise realm.

In August 1992, the then-49-year-old Coker Sr. was arrested in Allentown and charged “with prostitution and different offenses after he allegedly uncovered himself to 3 ladies as he drove round Central Faculty,” The Morning Call reported at the time.

The newspaper, citing police, reported that Coker drove as much as two sisters, age 14 and 10, and their 15-year-old cousin as they sat on their porch close to an elementary faculty, and “referred to as them over to the automotive and tried to proposition them.”

Coker Sr. quickly allegedly drove his BMW again round to the women, the newspaper stated. The 14-year-old informed The Morning Name that to stall for time she identified her mom, who was down the road, and informed him “She’ll maintain you.”

The woman’s mom then approached the automotive, and tried to drag Coker Sr. out, grabbing out a clump of his hair the method, the woman and police informed the newspaper.

Coker Sr., who was nabbed shortly afterward, was additionally charged with corruption of minors and open lewdness in that case, The Morning Name reported within the article, which famous Coker’s tackle on the time, which reveals up in public data.

Information detailing the end result of that case weren’t publicly out there.

Malcolm Gross, an Allentown lawyer who beforehand represented Coker Sr., informed CNBC on Monday that he referred the businessman to a widely known legal protection lawyer in Allentown after Coker was arrested within the indecent publicity case. That lawyer died within the late Nineties.

Allentown Police on Monday stated a verify of their information didn’t discover data of Coker’s arrest.

Gross had represented Coker Sr. in litigation the place he was being sued by American Categorical Financial institution for almost $900,000 in unpaid debt.

American Express Bank in 1992 accused Coker Sr. of fraudulently shifting hundreds of thousands of dollars of belongings to forestall assortment of the cash he owed the financial institution. The financial institution additionally accused of him of submitting for chapter in unhealthy religion, given the very fact, American Categorical stated, that he was solvent on the time of that submitting.

Also in 1992, The Morning Call reported that a corporation that owned Unclaimed Freight furniture stores settled a lawsuit against Coker Sr. and one other former company officer, who have been accused of improperly taking at the very least $1 million from the agency.

Coker Sr. had been vice president of the company, and his spouse, Susan, was also a defendant in the case, the place it was alleged that she had been paid almost $43,000 in hire for a barn on their property in Macungie, Pennsylvania.

“We had not performed the issues Valley Advisors claimed, so this decision is nice for all events,” Coker stated in a information launch on the time.

Accounting intrigue

A verify of SEC filings and different paperwork by CNBC subsequently revealed different curious particulars in regards to the firm, and other people linked to it.

Gregg Jaclin, a now-disbarred lawyer previously connected to Hometown International during its early financial filings, was sanctioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and prosecuted and convicted in federal courtroom for a rip-off involving shell firms. That rip-off predated his work in reference to Hometown.

SEC records show that an assistant director at the SEC emailed Coker Sr. in 2012 with questions on a agency referred to as Troy Inc. Jaclin was cc’ed on that electronic mail.

The letter says, “We word that Peter Coker, your chief government and sole shareholder, can also be an government and/or vital shareholder of different shell firms which have not too long ago filed for registration on Type 10.”

Jaclin is also cc’ed in a May 2014 email from the SEC to Ramon Tejeda, the CEO of TablacaleraYsidron, whose tackle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is identical as an tackle Coker Sr. has used.

Jaclin, who stays on federal supervised launch, has not responded to requests for remark.

Hometown’s auditors, Liggett & Webb, were censured and fined in August by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. One of the accountants from that firm, James Liggett, was barred from being related to a registered public accounting agency, due to conduct unrelated to Hometown.

Liggett informed CNBC “I do not recall” recall being concerned in auditing Hometown’s data. He referred questions on work on the agency to his former companion, Derek Webb, who didn’t reply to messages. Hometown’s annual report, filed final month, stated Liggett & Webb has served as the corporate’s auditors since 2015.

Hometown connection

James Patten, whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as a financial analyst at Coker Sr.’s Tryon Capital, wrestled in highschool with Hometown Worldwide’s CEO, Paul Morina.

Patten is barred by FINRA, the broker-dealer regulator, from appearing as a stockbroker or associating with a broker-dealers, in response to the regulator’s database.

Patten was the topic of repeated disciplinary actions by FINRA, which included not complying with an arbitration award of greater than $753,000 for violating securities legal guidelines, unauthorized buying and selling and churning a shopper’s account.

In 2006, he successfully appealed sanctions issued by an SEC administrative laws judge in a case the place he was accused of manipulating the worth of a Nasdaq-listed inventory.

Patten was defended in that matter by Ira Sorkin, the lawyer finest recognized for representing the Ponzi scheme kingpin Bernie Madoff, who died in jail final week.

Morina, who didn’t return repeated requests for remark, in response to SEC filings holds 1.5 million shares of Hometown widespread shares, which on paper are price greater than $20 million, given the present share worth.

Morina is also principal of Paulsboro Excessive Faculty, and moreover is the coach of the varsity’s famend wrestling workforce, which is a perennial contender for state championship titles. His brother, Carmel Morina, is the sheriff of Gloucester County, New Jersey, which incorporates Paulsboro.

Patten is the signer of a letter, cited in SEC filings, which detailed the lease of the constructing to the Your Hometown Deli, which is the corporate’s sole enterprise, from the Mantua Creek Group. SEC filings point out that Morina can also be concerned in Mantua Creek Group.

The letter was despatched to Hometown’s different government officer, Christine Lindenmuth, who’s a math instructor and administrator at Paulsboro Excessive Faculty.

Patten didn’t reply to a request for remark. Lindenmuth has not returned repeated requests for remark.

Public data present that Morina is the proprietor of property that seems to be adjoining to the deli, together with John Giovannitti, the athletic director of Paulsboro junior and senior excessive colleges, the principal of the junior highschool and president of the Borough of Paulsboro council.

Giovannitti didn’t return a request for remark.

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