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Nokia denies local connection

October 05, 2000

Nokia denies local connection



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer


Mobile phone manufacturer Nokia never agreed to do business with a Hagerstown company accused of defrauding investors of at least $400,000, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

Cellular Video Car Alarms Corp. and its owner, Carl Robinson, improperly implied that Nokia handsets would be part of a security system he is creating, according to a civil suit filed Tuesday by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the complaint, the SEC leveled charges of possible securities fraud and misleading advertising about Cellular Video's product. Attorneys general from Maryland and New York filed similar complaints on Wednesday.

Robinson, 54, has denied the charges and said prosecutors are bullying a small business trying to succeed. He called the experience a "bureaucratic nightmare."

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Robinson said he wants to sell a cellular-based video surveillance system for vehicles. If a car were burglarized or stolen, pictures of the theft would be transmitted as the crime took place.

Cellular Video has an office on Robinwood Drive. Robinson moved from New York City to Hagerstown in 1997. He said he is retired from a job at Mobil Oil and got into the cellular industry as a salesman in 1986.

The SEC contends that his ads in six states have been grand and baseless, including a projection of $100 billion in sales by 2008.

Robert Blackburn, the associate regional director for the SEC's Northeast bureau, said Robinson reported raising $400,000 from stock offerings, but only having about $15,000 left.

The names of the more than 200 investors have not been made public.

Cellular Video planned to sell 8 million shares for $1.25 each, the SEC said.

The SEC has obtained an order freezing Cellular Video's assets.

According to the SEC's court papers, an "offering circular" at Cellular Video's Web site "contained several pictures which appeared to be video cellular phones of various companies which allegedly would provide support for Cellular Video's products, including Nokia."

"The publication of these pictures was materially false and misleading at least because there was ... no such agreement between Nokia and Cellular Video," the SEC complaint said.

Robinson said earlier this week that he had a tentative arrangement with Nokia, but he balked at signing a nondisclosure statement.

References to Nokia were still on the Cellular Video Web site Thursday.

Although Robinson met with a Nokia vice president in Finland, no deals were made, Nokia spokeswoman Virve Virtanen said.

"We do not have any kind of established business relationship," she said in a phone interview from company headquarters in Irving, Texas.

The SEC also said Cellular Video fraudulently claimed to have a working relationship with AT&T.

Ken Woo, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless in Redmond, Wash., declined to comment.

Robinson said he pitched his idea to someone at AT&T Wireless who liked it, but the employee later left the company.

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