Their Platinum Wives: Dahlia Kalter – Kalter Gilad Cook Islands Trust, OBH 2308 LLC, RRR

uri-landesman

Please, dear reader read carefully. The irony cannot be lost on you that every penny that disappeared from the various Platinum entities, wound up in the wives’ funds, accounts, trusts, real estate holdings, jewelry foundations etc.

Mark Nordlicht has all but convinced the courts that he is penniless. That’s probably true. But Dahlia Kalter Nordlicht? She has way more than 2 nickles to rub together.

Have you forgotten about the Herbert Stettin case from 2011? Have you not considered the defendants in that case and the connections among them?

See for yourselves: 

https://www.law360.com/articles/268406/rothstein-trustee-goes-after-hedge-fund-heads-for-40m

Fast-forward to 2016 and The Talk of the Sound:

Two New Rochelle Men Among Seven Indicted In A $1 Billion “Ponzi-esque” Investment Fraud

The Wall Street Journal reported that Platinum’s investors were focused in the observant Jewish community. Nordlicht and his wife Dahlia Kalter-Nordlicht are active members of Young Israel of New Rochelle, both are board members of the Westchester Torah Academy located in New Rochelle, NY and endowed The Fred Kahane Technological High School, an Americans for Israel and Torah (AMIT) school in Ashkelon Israel.

Three of those arrested attended Yeshiva University, according to The Commentator, the school’s official student newspaper,  Mark (Meir) Nordlicht graduated from Yeshiva University in 1990 with a bachelor’s in philosophy. Uri Landesman attended Yeshiva University in the 1980s. David Levy graduated from Yeshiva University in 2006.

According to news reports, Mark Nordlicht was considering taking out a second $7.5M mortgage on his home.

As the New York City-based hedge fund began to go under in December 2015, Nordlicht wrote that he was thinking about using $7.5 million from a second mortgage on his home to try to keep it afloat, the papers say. He also was considering fleeing the country, they say.

That property could not have been his primary residence in New Rochelle which is estimated to be worth about $1.5 million and is held in a trust. As Platinum Partners faltered, some time between 2012 and 2016, the property at 245 Trenor Avenue was transferred from Dahlia Kalter, Nordlicht’s wife and a past employee of Platinum Partners, to Kalter Gilad Cook Islands Trust Limited.

The property may have instead been one in Florida owned by OBH 2308 LLC, a limited liability company which owns 10295 Collins Ave Unit 2308 at One Bal Harbour Ritz Carlton. The 5,266 square foot apartment, with 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms overlooking the ocean, is currently listed for sale at $9,995,000, The realtor describes the property as “the largest unit for sale in the building”.

The Principal of OBH 2308 LLC is Dahlia Kalter.

Nordlicht, Levy, Landesman, SanFilippo and Mann are charged with securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, securities fraud conspiracy, investment adviser fraud conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy for defrauding investors through, among other things, the overvaluation of their largest assets, the concealment of severe cash flow problems at Platinum’s signature fund, and the preferential payment of redemptions. Nordlicht, Levy, Small and Shulse are charged with securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy for defrauding Black Elk’s independent bondholders through a fraudulent offering document and diverting more than $95 million in proceeds to Platinum by falsely representing in the offering document that Platinum controlled approximately $18 million of the bonds when, in fact, Platinum controlled more than $98 million of the bonds.

Nordlicht, Levy, Landesman, SanFilippo, Mann, Small and Shulse will be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York. Shulse’s initial appearance for removal proceedings to the Eastern District of New York is scheduled for this afternoon at the United States Courthouse, 515 Rusk Avenue, Houston, Texas.

The charges were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Philip Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS).

“As alleged, Nordlicht and his cohorts engaged in one of the largest and most brazen investment frauds perpetrated on the investing public, earning Platinum more than $100 million in fees during the charged conspiracy. Platinum Partners purported to be a standard bearer in the hedge fund industry, reporting annual average returns of more than 17 percent since inception in 2003. In reality, their returns were the result of the overvaluation of their largest assets, which eventually led to Nordlicht and his co-conspirators operating Platinum like a Ponzi scheme, where they used loans and new investor funds to pay off existing investors,” stated United States Attorney Capers. “The charges and arrests announced today reflect our steadfast commitment to holding accountable hedge funds on Wall Street who rip off investors for personal gain.”  Mr. Capers thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Regional Office (SEC) for their significant cooperation and assistance during the investigation.

 

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Following Platinum Partners – Links for Receivership

MELANIE L. CYGANOWSKI, RECEIVER c/o Otterbourg P.C. 230 Park Avenue, 30th Floor New York, NY 10169 E-mail: platinumreceiver@otterbourg.com Website: www.PlatinumReceivership.com

August 17, 2017

VIA WEB POSTING

Re:
Securities & Exchange Commission v. Platinum Management (NY) LLC, et al.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Case No.: 1:16-cv-06848-DLI-VMS

Dear Investors:

I am writing to you as the newly-appointed receiver of Platinum Credit Management, L.P.; Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Master Fund LP; Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Fund (TE) LLC; Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Fund LLC; Platinum Partners Credit Opportunity Fund (BL) LLC; Platinum Liquid Opportunity Management (NY) LLC; and Platinum Partners Liquid Opportunity Fund (USA) L.P. (collectively, the “Receivership Entities” or “Platinum”) (collectively, “Platinum”). As Receiver, I am charged with, among other things, (i) taking control of and managing Platinum’s property and records (the “Receivership Assets”), (ii) taking actions as necessary and appropriate to preserve Receivership property, and (iii) taking actions as necessary and appropriate for the orderly liquidation of the Receivership Assets. The purpose of this letter is to advise you of the initial progress since my appointment and to explain how I intend to respond to your inquiries.

On June 23, 2017, the prior receiver, Bart M. Schwartz, resigned. As a result, by Order dated July 6, 2017, the Court appointed me as Receiver for the Receivership Entities. On July 21, 2017, the Court approved the retention of Otterbourg, P.C. as my legal counsel and Goldin Associates LLC as my financial advisor (collectively, the “Receivership Team”). Unless specifically modified, all previous court orders remain in place. A Second Amended Order Appointing Receiver, which sets forth the rights and responsibilities of the Receiver is expected to be entered in the near term. All documents, including a copy of the original Complaint for Injunctive and Other Relief against Platinum and its principals, Mark Nordlicht, David Levy, Daniel Small, Uri Landesman, Joseph Mann, Joseph Sanfilippo, and Jeffrey Shulse, filed by the Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”), Temporary Restraining Order, and Order Appointing Receiver can be viewed on this website.

Upon my appointment, the Receivership Team took immediate steps to secure and take control over Platinum’s accounts and books and records and implement cash management procedures. I also implemented procedures for the review and approval of all expenditures. The Receivership Team has prepared a 13-Week Cash Receipts and Disbursements Forecast, performed weekly actual vs. forecasted variance analyses, and is conducting daily and weekly reconciliations of Platinum’s cash and brokerage accounts.

The opening investment portfolio consisted of 90 investments in 69 entities. The assets of the Receivership Entities are diverse, but generally fall into three main asset categories: (i) life settlement investments (e.g., investments in life insurance policies), (ii) litigation finance investments, and (iii) “other” assets, which are primarily concentrated in the metals and mining and energy sectors, in companies that are mostly in the developmental stages. The nature of the Receivership Entities’ investments in the “other” assets varies. The Receivership Team is undertaking a thorough financial and legal analysis of the Receivership Entities’ position(s) in each investment, the rights of the Receivership Entity in the capital structure and pursuant to the operative documents, assessing the maintenance costs of the asset, and options available to the Receiver with respect to the monetization of the investment.

During the short time that I have been in control of the Receivership Assets, certain investments totaling approximately $8.6 million have been liquidated or are on the verge of liquidation. None of these assets has been liquidated in “fire sale” fashion. Indeed, one of them was monetized at par value. I believe that the life settlement and certain of the litigation finance investments are liquid and that there may be additional funds realized from their liquidation in the next several months.

As a general matter, however, I have not found support for the values reflected on Platinum’s books or for certain early indications of value in the Receivership. I look forward to working with Houlihan Lokey Financial Advisors, Inc., which I have retained to provide valuation services, and developing supportable valuation assessments.

I will report on our efforts by filing periodic reports with the Court. The reports will also be posted to this website set forth above. The most recent report: My Initial Status Report to the Court, which was filed on August 10, 2017, provides a more detailed review of the actions taken since my appointment and can be found on this website.

You can send general email inquiries to platinumreceiver@otterbourg.com. Although my staff and I will review all emails we receive, it is not practical for us to respond personally to all messages, not least because it would consume a significant amount of time. Accordingly, we will update the Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”)section on this website as needed to reflect your inquiries and our responses.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding.

Sincerely,

Melanie L. Cyganowski
Receiver

Case Information

RECEIVERSHIP ENTITIES
Platinum Credit Management, L.P.
Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Master Fund LP
Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Fund (TE) LLC
Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Fund LLC
Platinum Partners Credit Opportunity Fund (BL) LLC
Platinum Liquid Opportunity Management (NY) LLC
Platinum Partners Liquid Opportunity Fund (USA) L.P.

CASE NUMBER
1:16-cv-6848 (DLI)(VMS)

COURT
United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

JUDGE
Chief Judge Dora Lizette Irizarry

DATE FILED
December 19, 2016

LEGAL COUNSEL TO RECEIVER
Otterbourg P.C.
230 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10169
Phone: 212-661-9100
Fax: 212-682-6104
Attention: Adam C. Silverstein
Erik B. Weinick

FINANCIAL ADVISOR TO RECEIVER
Goldin Associates LLC
350 Fifth Avenue
The Empire State Building
New York, NY 10118
Phone: 212.593.2255
Fax: 212.888.2841
Attention: Marc Kirschner
William Edwards

RELATED CASES
1:16-cr-00640-DLI USA v. Nordlicht et al
1:16-cr-00640-DLI-1 Mark Nordlicht
1:16-cr-00640-DLI-2 David Levy
1:16-cr-00640-DLI-3 Uri Landesman
1:16-cr-00640-DLI-4 Joseph Sanfilippo
1:16-cr-00640-DLI-5 Joseph Mann
1:16-cr-00640-DLI-6 Daniel Small
1:16-cr-00640-DLI-7 Jeffrey Shulse

Docket Items for the above cases can be located at the PACER portal for the Eastern District of New York, located here.

A Platinum Exchange with the SEC – Civil Enforcement Case v. Criminal Case

Platinum Will Get SEC Docs While Criminal Case Advances

Law360, New York (July 10, 2017, 2:42 PM EDT) — A New York federal judge paused a civil enforcement case against the hedge fund Platinum Partners on Friday at the request of prosecutors while a related criminal case goes forward, rejecting complaints by several defendants that they would be deprived of the chance to learn about the government’s case against them.

As often happens, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s case against Platinum and executives accused of playing a role in a scheme to inflate the value of its investments was stayed for a criminal prosecution. All but two of the defendants asked for discovery to continue anyway, but U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry said even limited document exchanges would threaten the defendants’ right against self-incrimination.

Besides, the judge’s order said, federal prosecutors have committed to turning over materials they get from the SEC, which will allow the defendants to prepare for the civil case during the criminal case. So far, she noted, government lawyers said they’ve turned over 13.5 million documents, with more to come.

“In effect, the only discovery that will not be had in this civil matter is ‘testimonial’ type discovery, such as depositions, as proposed by [several of the] defendants,” the judge wrote. “Opposing defendants can hardly be heard to complain that they will be deprived of discovery in this civil matter.”

The pending decision was mentioned briefly at a hearing Friday where the main item was the judge’s decision to sack the SEC’s receiver, Bart Schwartz of Guidepost Solutions LLC, after concluding that he improperly transferred millions from an escrow account to fund an investment the feds called “risky.”

In the underlying case, prosecutors and the government litigators accuse Platinum of covering up a liquidity crisis at one of its investment funds and lying to lenders to Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC, a drilling company it owned, about the company’s health. Managers hid the hedge fund’s troubles until it filed for bankruptcy last year.

Kevin O’Brien of Ford O’Brien LLP, whose client Joseph Sanfilippo was a chief financial officer at one of Platinum’s funds, said Monday that the order was good news. Even though the case was stayed, he said, it was in some sense “only partial” because the defendants would still receive SEC documents.

……. To obtain the document from it’s original forum see http://www.law360.com

The case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Platinum Management NY LLC et al., case number 1:16-cv-06848, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

More Huberfeld and Optionable Inc. – A PIECE OF PLATINUM ANYONE?

 

MURRAY HUBERFELD, MARK NORDLICHT AND OBTIONABLE….

Thanks to our contributor on this one. – LM

Murray Huberfeld grew up in the Bronx and growing up became accustomed to selling off bogus and fraudulent deals. He never grew out of the habit, evidenced by relentlessly ongoing activities in private sector and public market activities. Every case or situation in which he continues to remain unscathed represents an unfortunate continuation of the status quo. He is a link to the Rothstein scandal. I wonder what that’s a link to. Arnold Rothstein?
Optionable Inc, the brokerage located in Valhalla, New York, transacts in the brokerage of
energy derivatives to brokerage and financial services firms globally. On January 22, 2007, NYMEX Holdings, parent to the New York Mercantile Exchange, issued a news release that the they were purchasing a 19% stake in the pink sheet Optionable Inc (OTC:OPBL). While the purchase may be questionable in and of itself, the history of those involved and one particular person tend to stand out.

NYMEX Chairman R. Schaeffer’s announcement of a 19% stake in Optionable, which increased revenues to $16 million from under $6 million. Such was reflected in Optionable’s stock price. But behind the commodity derivative brokerage’s arguably manufactured numbers exists a clinging reliance on related party transactions and often depends on one sole supplier or customer. Such parties include Capital Energy Services, a firm with a President and CEO accounting for a significant interest in Optionable’s revenue last year.

The Bank of Montreal must come as no surprise. According to Optionable filings, this bank accounted for a comparable amount of the Company’s revenues. Optionable received an advantage from this practice, achieving almost 80% margins when otherwise comparing to 56% with nonrelated parties.

David Lee, Bank of Montreal Commodity Trader, accounted for 18% of Optionable’s revenue. Mark Nordlicht founded Optionable Inc in 2000 with the backing of his like-minded morally challenged father, Jules Nordlicht, who had been federally prosecuted for manipulating the oil markets and withholding $27 million in illegal profits.

According to an April 2017 New York Post Article by Roddy Boyd, Jules owns 2.19 million shares.
635 Beach 19th Street
Far Rockaway, NY 11691
contact@optionable.com
Source: OTC Markets
NY Post: Roddy Boyd

Jona Rechnitz: Loan Shark? Diamond Dealer? Lucky Gambler? Real Estate Mogul? Shoshana by any other name…

 

jona rechnitz_crop_exact

NYPost: http://nypost.com/2017/04/26/key-witness-in-nypd-corruption-probe-was-an-alleged-loan-shark/

Key witness in NYPD corruption probe was an alleged ‘loan shark’’

The government’s key witness in multiple corruption probes was a part-time “loan shark” who made money doling out predatory loans, court documents alleged on Tuesday.

Jona Rechnitz — the government’s witness against two NYPD cops accused of taking bribes — “was nothing more than a loan shark” when it came to his business dealings with Hamlet Peralta, the former owner of a Harlem eatery that was popular with cops, Peralta’s lawyer said.

Peralta, the former owner of the Hudson River Cafe, stands accused of running a $12 million Ponzi scheme tied to an allegedly fictitious wholesale liquor business.

Peralta’s lawyer, Cesar de Castro, made the allegations against Rechnitz as part of a legal tug-of-war with feds about what evidence can be introduced at Peralta’s upcoming May trial.

The government wants to call as witnesses victims of Peralta’s alleged scheme who were recruited by Rechnitz — and who learned of the scheme through Rechnitz.

De Castro has objected, arguing that statements made by Rechnitz cannot be offered as the truth because he was engaged in his own loan-sharking scheme.

“Evidence at trial will show that (Rechnitz) was not Mr. Peralta’s agent but the architect of his own scheme in order to bleed Mr. Peralta dry,” de Castro said.

Rechnitz’s lawyer, Alan Levine, declined to comment.

Rechnitz, a real estate investor, is also the government’s key witness in the upcoming bribery trial of Norman Seabrook, former head of NYC’s correction officers’ union.

 

http://nypost.com/2017/04/26/key-witness-in-nypd-corruption-probe-was-an-alleged-loan-shark/

Platinum Partners – Where is this Going?

Det. Whitney Tilson Would’ve Caught These Platinum Scammers Years Ago

http://dealbreaker.com/2017/02/whitney-tilson-platinum-partners/

Platinum Partners – One Description

Unbelievable description of the Platinum fraud.

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/The-fall-of-Black-Elk-Energy-10855360.php

The fall of Black Elk Energy began in New York City nearly a decade ago, with a meeting, a handshake and a loan.

Looking back, those were halcyon days for John Hoffman, founder of the Houston oil and gas company – before an explosion tore through an offshore rig and killed three workers, before federal investigators accused the hedge fund that made the loan of bilking investors, and before one of his top executives turned on him.

Hoffman, forced out of Black Elk in 2014, is now at the helm of a new company, and barely keeping the doors open. Black Elk is bankrupt and facing criminal charges in a federal case awaiting trial. And Hoffman’s one-time backer, Platinum Partners, is under federal indictment, accused of pillaging Black Elk and the hedge fund’s investors.

Last month, federal investigators arrested six Platinum executives and the man who replaced Hoffman as CEO, alleging they overvalued Black Elk’s assets, concealed “severe cash flow problems,” extracted high management fees and illegally diverted to Platinum more than $95 million owed to creditors holding Black Elk’s bonds. Platinum attorneys did not return calls seeking comment.

“I didn’t think (Platinum) had the guts to take it all,” Hoffman said in an interview. “I thought they’d take a large share. Ends up they took it all.”

The rise and fall of Black Elk Energy highlights the risks of the oil and gas business, which demands piles of cash that can quickly vanish through bad luck, bad planning, bad management or all three. It also reveals a shadow banking system that lends at double-digit interest rates to firms desperate for capital and has few qualms about gutting companies when they don’t perform.

BLACK ELK TIMELINE

MONEY TRAIL

2003 Investment manager Mark Nordlicht starts the hedge fund Platinum Partners in New York.

2007 Engineer John Hoffman and a partner open Black Elk Energy in Houston.

2008 Hoffman and partner fly to New York looking for capital; meet Platinum executives.

2009 Black Elk buys 35 oil fields on 71,000 acres from the Houston company W&T Offshore for $30 million, the first major purchase of many to come.

2011 Black Elk ends year with 240 oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico on 300,000 acres, producing about 14,500 barrels of oil and gas per day.

2012 Workers welding on a company platform in the Gulf ignite fuel vapors, leading to a string of exploding tanks and killing three.

2013 Black Elk signs drilling contracts worth about $90 million, but Platinum reneges on promises to send capital and Black Elk can’t pay the contractors.

2014 Renaissance Offshore, a Houston production company, buys Black Elk oil fields for $170 million; Platinum engineers a bondholders vote, federal investigators say, that diverts $95 million in proceeds to Platinum rather than contractors and bondholders.

2015 Federal prosecutors file involuntary manslaughter and other charges stemming from the Gulf explosion against Black Elk and contractor Grand Isle Shipyards. Black Elk files for bankruptcy.

2016 The U.S. attorney of the Eastern District of New York announces the indictment of six Platinum executives and one Black Elk executive, alleging they overvalued Black Elk assets, concealed “severe cash flow problems,” extracted high management fees and illegally diverted to Platinum money owed to bondholders.

Hoffman now says he had no idea of the financial disaster he was walking into when he flew from Houston to New York in 2008 and made a deal with Platinum. He thought he had found a deep-pocketed partner to fuel his vision for Black Elk at a time when loans were hard to come by. Even after disaster struck an offshore rig in the Gulf of Mexico, Platinum seemed to have the money and confidence to right Black Elk and put it back on a path to success.

But one day in 2014, Hoffman got suspicious pretty quickly.

Knocking on doors

The following account is based on interviews, financial filings and court records in civil and criminal cases:

Hoffman started Black Elk in 2007, raising money from private investors and using the cash to buy shallow-water oil fields in the Gulf for bottom-barrel prices from companies that no longer wanted them. Black Elk reworked the old wells with updated technology and boosted production.

Not a year later, the U.S. economy crashed, and oil prices with it. In late 2008, Hoffman and co-founder James Hagemeier flew to New York City to nail down capital. Over the course of two months, they knocked on the doors of at least 50 investment firms.

“It was a tough time to look for funds,” Hoffman said.

Finally, a middleman suggested the two meet the executives of the New York hedge fund Platinum Partners.

Platinum was founded in 2003 by Mark Nordlicht, who started as a young trader in the pits of the New York Cotton Exchange and opened two other investment firms before Platinum. He and Platinum gained a reputation for investing in risky companies and returning double-digit profits for investors.

Platinum offered Black Elk two loans together worth about $50 million – at 20 percent interest. But Platinum’s business model didn’t just loan money to desperate companies. The loans came with “kickers,” or clauses that gave Platinum growing ownership stakes in the firms over the lives of the loans.

“We were new and so small,” Hoffman recalled. “We didn’t draw much interest from the bigger players. Platinum seemed like a good fit.”

In 2009, Black Elk began a buying spree with Platinum’s cash, later supplemented by $150 million raised in a bond sale. By 2011, it owned leases on 300,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico that produced about 14,500 barrels of oil and gas per day, according to securities filings.

“All I know was when we had an acquisition, Mark Nordlicht said, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ ” Hoffman said. “And he always had the money.”

By 2012, Black Elk, with a market value that Platinum estimated at nearly $300 million, was the largest asset in Platinum’s most successful fund, then valued at $700 million. Then it all unraveled.

In November 2012, workers welding on a Black Elk platform ignited fuel vapors, leading to a string of exploding tanks. The explosion killed three workers, injured at least two others and spilled hundreds of gallons of oil into the Gulf.

The fall out was immediate for Black Elk’s finances. Oil production fell. Legal fees mounted. (In 2015, federal prosecutors filed involuntary manslaughter and other criminal charges against Black Elk and contractor Grand Isle Shipyards, which both pleaded not guilty. Hoffman was not charged individually.)

BUSINESS

It’s official. Whataburger has been dubbed the winner of taste over In-N-Out and Shake Shack, according to BuzzFeed .  Buzzfeed dubs Whataburger better than In-N-Out, Shake Shack Houston Salsa Congress workshop participant Harrison Bohanan follows instructor Franklin Liranzo’s dance moves to warm up before a class Saturday in Houston. Houston Salsa Congress attracts veterans seeking stress relief A group of economists who believe in the thesis of “cash only, no strings” founded GiveDirectly, just give cash, unconditionally, to poor adults in Africa. Kenya is one of the main countries it operates in. In eliminating poverty, cold hard cash goes a lot further than Cattle are inspected for ticks near Laredo. Experts are trying to pinpoint how the ticks ended up 110 miles north of the border. Spread of fever tick spooks Texas cattle industry Indian airline SpiceJet buying 100 Boeing 737 MAX jets Consumers look over toys for sale before Christmas in Harare, Zimbabwe. A cash crunch is so severe that banks are capping customer withdrawals at $150 a week. Cash is king in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe
Black Elk’s lenders reduced lines of credit and demanded more collateral. Black Elk started selling assets to raise cash.

Still, in December 2012, Hoffman flew to New York to present Black Elk’s growth strategy to Nordlicht and another Platinum executive, David Levy. Platinum promised as much as $120 million in capital for the company’s 2013 drilling campaign, Hoffman said, and Black Elk signed drilling contracts worth about $90 million with energy services companies.

Four months later, Platinum reneged on its pledge, leaving Black Elk unable to pay the contractors.

“It was just such a deep hole,” Hoffman said. “We couldn’t dig out of it.”

‘This is code red’

By the start of 2014, Black Elk had a new chief financial officer, Jeffrey Shulse, a lawyer and accountant whom Hoffman had hired a few years earlier to run a well-plugging company created by Black Elk. Platinum pushed Hoffman hard to make Shulse the CFO of Black Elk, Hoffman said.

Shulse wanted Hoffman out of the company. He wouldn’t comment for this story but said in a court deposition that Black Elk was ineptly managed, spending money it didn’t have on luxuries like boats, helicopters and cigar rooms at the office. Hoffman began secretly tracking and reading Shulse’s every email, Shulse said in the deposition; Shulse hired investigators to see if Hoffman had bugged his office.

Black Elk was by then effectively insolvent, federal investigators said.

Platinum, however, owned a $98 million stake in Black Elk, about 76 percent of the company, according to Hoffman’s files. And Platinum had a plan to get as much money back from the sinking oil company. It ordered Shulse to find a buyer willing to pay $170 million for Black Elk’s seven most valuable oil fields.

Shulse, meanwhile, was secretly trying to get Hoffman’s job. In March 2014, Shulse sent an email to Levy asking to take over as Black Elk CEO – and, according to the indictment, get paid $1 million from sales of the Black Elk’s assets.

“I want to be aligned with Platinum and friends of Platinum,” Shulse wrote in an email seized by investigators. “What’s good for them is good for me.”

Shulse found a buyer, the Houston production company Renaissance Offshore, for the Black Elk holdings. But Platinum still had a problem. The terms of Black Elk’s bonds required the company to pay off bondholders before it did anything else with the money.

Platinum was having its own problems. No longer generating double-digit returns, investors were pulling out money, and Platinum was barely able to pay redemption requests to investors, according to the indictment. Failure to cash in on Black Elk assets would “be the end of the fund,” Nordlicht wrote in an email. “This is code red,” he later said.

By May 2014, Platinum executives decided they had to persuade bondholders to let Black Elk use the sale proceeds for other purposes than paying off the bonds. And that change required a vote of the bondholders.

Hoffman didn’t like the move. But he didn’t oppose it, either. What bondholder “with half a brain,” Hoffman thought, would agree to give up his rights?

Platinum, again, had it figured out. It began buying Black Elk bonds – so that it could vote to pay itself, according to the indictment.

Platinum executives leaked information about Black Elk’s finances, driving down the value of the bonds, which they then bought at healthy discounts, federal prosecutors alleged. By April 2014, Platinum owned $99 million of the original $150 million in bonds, but concealed its ownership, investigators said, by selling all but $18 million to four investment funds that Platinum controlled.

With Platinum and its entities holding most of the bonds, the proposal to spend the cash from the oil field sales as the company saw fit was easily approved.

Ripping TVs off walls

On Aug. 18, 2014, Platinum sent an email to Shulse directing him to wire $70 million to Platinum. Two days later, Black Elk sent another $25 million from the Renaissance sales to Platinum.

The next Monday, Hoffman showed up at Black Elk. The doors were locked and office vacated, he said, and he had to call the building superintendent to get in. What was left of the company had moved in with Shulse’s well service company, which was by then also controlled by Platinum.

Not a week later, Shulse, now CEO, held something of a yard sale in the old office. Afterwards, former Black Elk employees said they went back inside the building. Computers, refrigerators and office furniture were all gone. Trash littered the floor. TVs yanked out of the walls, mounts and all, left fist-sized holes in the drywall.

“What a disgraceful way to go out,” Hoffman said.

By then, Black Elk had laid off about 100 workers, most of its staff.

On Sept. 11, 2014, Platinum authorized Shulse to pay himself a $275,000 bonus. Platinum executives, meanwhile, were paying themselves as well, according to the indictment. From 2012 to 2015, even as Black Elk crashed and Platinum scraped for cash, executives consistently told investors the fund was returning double-digit profits, justifying charges of as much as 20 percent in management and incentive fees, or $111 million in total over the four years, federal authorities alleged.

Many of Black Elk’s contractors were never paid. In August 2015, some filed a petition to liquidate Black Elk through Chapter 7 bankruptcy and use the proceeds to pay creditors. By the following June, Platinum didn’t have enough cash to pay investors trying to pull their money out the Platinum fund.

On Dec. 19, the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of New York announced the indictment of seven on fraud and conspiracy charges: Platinum executives Uri Landesman, Joseph Sanfilippo, Joseph Mann, Daniel Small, Levy and Nordlicht as well as Shulse. They all pleaded not guilty.

U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers, whose office investigated the case, estimated that investors in Platinum’s fund lost $1 billion.

Shulse’s attorney, F. Andino Reynal, said Shulse was told what to do by Platinum.

“He didn’t commit a crime here,” Reynal said. “I’m very confident that once the jury has heard all the facts, they’ll determine he’s not guilty.”

Hoffman’s hands still shake when talking about Platinum. His cheeks still redden. The scandal has hamstrung his new company, P3 Petroleum, which can’t raise money to grow. The company pumps about 50 barrels a day and employs seven workers.

“We’ve been going at it for more than two years now,” Hoffman said. “We don’t have a lot to show for it.”