FORTUNE -- Back in February, a man named David Staral purchased the Chicago Rush arena football team. Three months later, vendors began complaining that bills weren't being paid. Then the Chicago Sun-Times then reported that Staral is on probation after being convicted of embezzling money and actually had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection back in January (i.e., one month before he bought the team). Not surprisingly, the league soon took over team operations.
What does all of this have to do with Term Sheet? Well, David Staral is a private equity investor who had deep ties to Advanced Equities – the broker-dealer that was busted by the SEC for fraud and eventually shut down last year (past coverage here).
It's not exactly clear if Staral personally invested in AEI deals or steered other people into them (or both), but he has said his "clients" included fuel-cell maker Bloom Energy and flailing electric carmaker Fisker Automotive.
Moreover, Staral launched a private equity firm with Lisa Julin, who had been a managing director of AEI's private client group. Staral said in interviews that the firm – called Star Julin Equity Partners – managed a $40 million private equity fund. It still has a website, but I couldn't find any SEC registration for the firm or its fund, and Staral didn't return my calls.
So I reached out to Lisa Julin, to see if she could explain exactly what Star Julin Equity Partners is (and who, if anyone, it raised money from). She forwarded my inquiry to her attorney, who only provided a brief statement about how Julin is "a highly-respected member of the financial services industry… and that she "has no intention of conducting business dealings of any kind with Mr. Staral."
The attorney wouldn't really explain why he, rather than Julin, was calling me back. Or the status of the private equity fund. Or if there even was a private equity fund in the first place. Or why a "highly-respected member of the financial services industry" got into business with someone who has twice pleaded guilty to embezzlement.
Like when it comes to most things associated with AEI, there are more questions than answers. And even the answers don't seem to make a lot of sense.
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Defunct firm's ex-brokers find yet another home.
FORTUNE -- Ten days ago I reported that a group of former Advanced Equities brokers had resurfaced at Newport Beach-based Roth Capital Partners, with plans to open a Chicago office and launch a venture finance group. My original source was a January 21 email sent by two of the brokers, Kevin Graetz and Joe Hede, to their former Advanced Equities clients.
The email read, in part:
"A MOREDan Primack - Feb 11, 2013 2:17 PM ET
A group of controversial investment bankers resurface.
FORTUNE -- When Advanced Equities shut down last November, my assumption was that its staffers would scatter. After all, it seemed inconceivable that someone would want to help this controversial crew stay together. Not after the SEC settlement and the years of pushing lousy investments like Fisker Automotive. But I was wrong.
Fortune has learned that at least ten former Advanced Equities professionals have joined MOREDan Primack - Jan 31, 2013 1:11 PM ET
Fisker's ties to Advanced Equities go beyond funding.
FORTUNE -- Yesterday I began researching a piece on electric carmaker Fisker Automotive, whose board reportedly considered bankruptcy before retaining Evercore to seek new investments.
One of the first things I noticed was that Fisker's website lists Peter McDonnell as a board member. He was as a senior managing director of investment banking for Advanced Equities, the broker-dealer that collapsed last month in the wake MOREDan Primack - Dec 12, 2012 12:17 PM ET
Defunct broker-dealer finally contacts its clients.
FORTUNE -- Yesterday I wrote a blog post titled: Dear Advanced Equities, please call your clients. It seemed that in the three weeks since AEI decided to cease operations, its clients had been unable to get any information on the status of their investments. Not just the dentists with $10,000 or $20,000 invested into companies like Bloom Energy or Fisker Automotive, but also those with millions MOREDan Primack - Dec 6, 2012 11:01 AM ET
Advanced Equities is shutting down in silence.
FORTUNE -- It's been nearly three weeks since broker-dealer Advanced Equities decided to cease operations, after having helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for companies like Bloom Energy and Fisker Automotive. Since then, its clients have been unable to get any information on the status of their investments -- even though some of them have millions of dollars at stake.
On November 17, Advanced MOREDan Primack - Dec 5, 2012 4:31 PM ET
The end of Advanced Equities?
FORTUNE -- Controversial Chicago-based investment firm Advanced Equities is shutting down broker-dealer operations, Fortune has learned.
Sources say that many Advanced Equities brokers were told on Friday that today would be their last day, and many have already begun searching for new employment. A staff meeting is scheduled for later this afternoon. It is currently unclear what will become of the parent company that holds the broker-dealer, MOREDan Primack - Nov 12, 2012 1:18 PM ET
What did Bloom Energy investors know, and from whom did they learn it?
FORTUNE -- For several years, readers have sent sporadic emails about what they considered to be questionable dealings by Advanced Equities – a Chicago-based group best known for marketing large, later-stage venture capital rounds. Now the Securities & Exchange Commission is getting in on the act.
Last week the SEC charged Advanced Equities and its co-founders Dwight Badger and MOREDan Primack - Sep 24, 2012 11:11 AM ET
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