File this one away under "you don't have to be a big corporation to bilk investors." Apex-based water treatment company HydroFlo will be losing its CEO, Dennis Mast. The SEC alleges that under Mast, the company sent out a press release saying that subsidiaries were doing work in the gulf coast areas ravaged by Katrina, and another containing great news about the company from an "independent" and "unbiased" analyst (who had been paid $20,000 by HydroFlo).
Mast is settling the SEC's lawsuit for $100,000 (without admitting that he or his company did anything wrong, of course). But the system works: Mast won't be able to serve as a CEO or a Director for any more corporations, and he's forbidden from taking place in a kind of stock offering commonly associated with boiler rooms and other unsavory sales practices. When the SEC has the money to go after the bad guys, they usually get them. The SEC just doesn't always have the money.