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Cell-alarm firm gets civil fines

December 10, 2000

Cell-alarm firm gets civil fines



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer


The Maryland attorney general's office has fined a Hagerstown car alarm company and its owner $120,000 in connection with alleged securities fraud.

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Carl Robinson and his business, Cellular Video Car Alarms Corp., were each charged with 12 violations of the Maryland Securities Act. Each count carries a civil penalty of $5,000, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said.

Robinson was also barred from selling securities and from conducting a securities or investment advisory business in Maryland.

Attorneys general in Maryland and New York lodged charges against Robinson and Cellular Video in October, a day after the United States Securities & Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint.

Prosecutors said Robinson advertised unrealistic claims to collect over $400,000 from more than 200 investors nationwide despite not having a working product.

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"We would like to get the restitution first before the fine," Curran said.

Contacted by a reporter after the attorney general's announcement, Robinson said he was unaware of the fines and is outraged by them because he said he has done nothing wrong.

"What is this, Iraq?" he said.

He accused the attorney general's office of "acting in a vicious, malicious, arbitrary manner."

"The state of Maryland is really quite rotten in all of this," he said.

Court papers quoted some of Robinson's Internet and newspaper ads as saying that up to $44 billion worth of car alarms could be sold by 2005 and $100 billion by 2008.

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

Robinson said his alarm system will use a cellular phone line to transmit video footage of a vehicle break-in as it occurs. A motion sensor will activate the system. The images will be sent to a home computer or security monitor.

During an interview at his Robinwood Drive office in October, he demonstrated the role of each component, but said a battery malfunction prevented his system from working that day.

Prosecutors have said Robinson doesn't have a prototype yet.

Robinson said he hasn't misled anyone. He still hopes to market his alarm system when he irons out his legal problems.

The New York and SEC cases against Robinson and Cellular Video are pending.

Brad Maione, a spokesman for the New York attorney general's office, said the matter will be back in state Supreme Court next month.

The federal case will return to court Dec. 19, said Robert Blackburn, the associate regional director of the SEC's Northeast bureau.

The SEC in October obtained a temporary restraining order that froze Robinson's and Cellular Video's assets.

The SEC also contends that Robinson fraudulently claimed to have product ties to other businesses.

A vice president for Nokia met with Robinson but didn't strike a deal, that company said. Another company, AT&T, declined to comment.

Robinson didn't defend himself in Maryland after a October cease-and-desist order was issued, the attorney general's office said, so the final judgment became automatic.

Robinson, who said he wasn't contacted about the Maryland proceedings, is fighting the New York and SEC cases by himself.

"We don't have the money for a lawyer ... and we don't need a lawyer because there's nothing wrong with what we're doing," he said.

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