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Spitzer sues hedge fund, adviser alleging fraud

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed suit Thursday against hedge fund Samaritan Asset Management Services Inc., Samaritan adviser Johnson Capital Management Inc. and their top officers, saying they engaged in a fraudulent mutual fund market-timing scheme.

The defendants secretly “piggy-backed” their trades on the investment accounts of retirement plans that were customers of Arizona-based Security Trust Co., Spitzer’s office said in a news release.

Spitzer’s suit seeks payback of any ill-gotten gains.

The two companies and their principals, Edward Owens of Samaritan and Michael Johnson of Johnson Capital, engaged in “flying under the radar,” a practice designed to skirt funds’ monitoring systems that detect market timing, the attorney general’s office said.

According to the complaint, Johnson Capital and Security Trust evaded mutual funds’ scrutiny by, for example, purposely varying the amounts of their trades.

As a result of a related investigation by Spitzer’s office, Security Trust Chief Executive Grant Seeger pleaded guilty to two felonies in 2005. William Kenyon, Security Trust’s president, also pleaded guilty to a felony as a result of the investigation.