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Ex-NFL Player Willie Gault Slapped With Securities Fraud

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The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California late Thursday ordered more than $200,000 in fines for former Olympic sprinter and NFL player Willie Gault following his conviction on securities fraud charges last March.

The court ordered Gault to pay $101,000 in disgorgement, $27,570 in prejudgment interest and $78,000 in civil penalties, for a total of $206,570 for his actions as co-CEO of the medical device company Heart Tronics Inc. In 2008, he resigned his position with Heart Tronics, formerly known as Signalife Inc.

After a two-week trial last March, a jury found Gault — who played for the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Raiders — liable for taking part in a securities fraud scheme, knowingly circumventing Heart Tronics’ internal accounting controls, and making false CEO certifications in a public filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SEC enforcement chief Andrew Ceresney said in a statement Friday that the SEC is “pleased that the court has ordered Willie Gault to pay over $200,000 in monetary relief and barred him from serving as an officer or director of a public company until he affirmatively demonstrates that he is fit to serve in that capacity.”

The court’s bar “recognizes the seriousness and impact of Gault’s violations of the securities law and reinforces the importance of CEOs understanding their obligations under the federal securities laws.” 

According to the complaint, the court also imposed permanent injunctive relief against Gault, including an equitable bar against acting as an officer or director of any public company until Gault affirmatively demonstrates that “he has made himself knowledgeable of the requirements of the securities laws imposed on officers and directors” and “otherwise become competent and fit to serve as an officer or director.”

The jury had found Gault liable for his knowing or negligent involvement in a fraudulent scheme that misappropriated funds from an investor in Heart Tronics.

While acting as a CEO, Gault transferred $101,000 of investor funds to a private brokerage account that he controlled, after which the funds were lost by Gault in stock trading that the company never authorized.

Also, Gault was found liable, as CEO, for knowingly circumventing or failing to implement internal accounting controls at Heart Tronics, and for filing a Form 10-Q with the SEC in 2008 that made false Sarbanes-Oxley certifications.

Gault was a first round draft pick of the NFL’s Bears in 1983 following his college career at the University of Tennessee. He spent 11 years in the NFL and was part of the Bears’ Super Bowl-winning 1985 squad led by Jim McMahon and Walter Payton. He also was a world-class sprinter and hurdler, and was a member of the U.S. Olympics team in 1980 that boycotted the Moscow games.

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