The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed a civil lawsuit charging that Dan Laikin, an Indianapolis businessman before taking the helm of Los Angeles-based National Lampoon Inc. in 2005, participated in a scheme to fraudulently manipulate the company's stock.
Laikin, 46, is one of four defendants in the suit, which was filed in federal court in Philadelphia. According to the 21-page suit, Laikin paid kickbacks to a stock promoter and another individual he believed had connections to corrupt brokers.
In fact, according to the SEC, the individual was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The suit quotes directly from conversations Laikin allegedly had with the cooperating witness.
According to the SEC, "Laikin ... sought to artificially push National Lampoon's stock price from under $2 a share to at least $5 per share, in part, to keep the company's stock price above the minimum listing requirements of the AMEX, and to increase National Lampoon's ability to enter into possible 'strategic partnerships' and acquisitions." It said the fraud occurred from March through June of this year.
Laikin is National Lampoon's CEO. The other defendants are Las Vegas resident Dennis Barskey, a consultant to National Lampoon; New Jersey resident Eduardo Rodriguez, a stock promoter; and New York resident Tim Dougherty, also a stock promoter.
An assistant for Laikin said the company would have no comment until it issues a statement later today.
Laikin, the brother of Brightpoint Inc. CEO Bob Laikin, was part of an Indianapolis group that started amassing a major stake in National Lampoon nearly a decade ago.
In media interviews, he said he wanted to breathe new life into a comedy brand best known for the 1978 classic "Animal House." However, the company has continued to struggle.
Also on the board of National Lampoon are Indianapolis businessmen Tim Durham and Paul Skjodt. They are not named in the lawsuit.
This story will be updated.