Biotech CEO Pleads Guilty to COVID-19 Securities Fraud Scheme | DOJ Press Release

A California man pleaded guilty yesterday to securities fraud, wire fraud, and obstruction of an official proceeding in connection with his scheme to defraud investors by making false and misleading statements about the purported development of a new, blood-based COVID-19 test, leading to millions of dollars in investor losses.

According to court documents, Keith Berman, 70, of Westlake Village, was the CEO and sole director of Decision Diagnostics Corp. (DECN), a public medical device company. Berman and DECN were in precarious financial condition in the lead up to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Berman wrote in internal emails that he needed a “new story” to “raise millions.” Additionally, Berman had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of company money on personal expenditures, despite publicly claiming not to take any compensation. Faced with these financial difficulties, from February through December 2020, Berman engaged in a scheme to defraud investors by falsely claiming that DECN had developed a 15-second test to detect COVID-19 in a finger prick sample of blood.  Despite his claims to the investing public, Berman knew that no such test existed.

Source: Biotech CEO Pleads Guilty to COVID-19 Securities Fraud Scheme | DOJ Press Release