April 13, 2006
Columbia, Mo. — A Boone County judge today ordered a group of promoters from Columbia to cease advertising, soliciting or selling any securities or investment opportunities. The preliminary injunction from Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton was directed at three Columbia residents who are behind a business called UMI Inc. Attorney General Jay Nixon is suing the promoters, saying they collected more than $2 million from investors for vending machine "black boxes" that were never developed for production.
Nixon's lawsuit contends that William C. McNeely, Craig F. Swoboda and Gail M. Wilkerson diverted investments intended for development and production for personal use. Those uses included gifts for themselves and to pay judgments from previous lawsuits brought against them and UMI. In addition to UMI, several other businesses are named as defendants in the lawsuit, including Vendacom Financial Group LLC, Transenco Inc., Computerized Vending Corp., Advance Development Inc. and American Technology Centers Inc.
"Today's order ensures that, as we proceed with our lawsuit, no more sales of investments in UMI will take place," Nixon said. "We will continue on the issues of restitution for investors and penalties for the state of Missouri."
The lawsuit says the black boxes, promoted to UMI investors since 1999 for use in vending machines to manage money and monitor inventory, never went beyond the assessment or testing stage. Some investors, who Nixon said were promised high returns and told their investments were risk-free, made stock purchases in UMI for as much as $450,000.
Nixon says his office is continuing to work in cooperation with the FBI, which brought the matter to the attention of the Attorney General's Office and which has an ongoing investigation into the companies and individuals. The next step for the Attorney General's Office is to obtain a permanent injunction against the defendants, which could include orders for restitution and penalties, Nixon said.