The Securities and Exchange Commission charged three former employees of VisionQuest Wealth Management LLC with falsifying records to conceal fraud related to a $10 million Ponzi scheme, and withholding documents that were requested by the SEC during an examination and ensuing enforcement investigation.

According to the complaint, Stacey Beane, 35, of Florida; Justin Deckert, 30, of Virginia; and Travis Laska, 26, of North Carolina helped conceal a fraudulent offering of more than $10 million in promissory notes by Stephen C. Peters, the owner and principle of VisionQuest Wealth Management, to Peters’ advisory clients.

Peters, who also controlled VisionQuest Capital LLC (“VQ Capital”) and VQ Wealth LLC (“VQ Wealth”), collectively the VQ Entities, was previously charged by the SEC for running a Ponzi scheme based on the fraudulent offering. Criminal charges also were brought against him by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina based on the same misconduct, as well as Peters' providing false information to SEC staff.

In June, he was found guilty on 20 counts, including investment advisor fraud, fraudulent sale of unregistered securities, mail and wire fraud and falsification of documents provided to the SEC.

The SEC’s complaint against Beane, Deckert and Laska said that while they had a role in the fraudulent note offering, each falsified multiple records of VQ Management to conceal the fraud or other misconduct from the SEC staff during an examination and a related ensuing enforcement investigation.

For example, the complaint said that in response to documents requested, Beane and Laska altered investor accreditation documents and client balance sheets to make several unaccredited investors appear to be accredited. Furthermore, the complaint said Deckert cut and pasted signatures of VQ Management employees onto, and falsified the dates of, outside business forms the examination staff had requested.

The complaint said the alterations made it appear as if the employees had disclosed to VQ Management’s chief compliance officer the potential conflict of interest resulting from the sale of VQ Capital notes to VQ Management’s advisory clients.

Additionally, in response to SEC staff requests for emails sent to and from Peters, the complaint alleged that Beane and Laska used keyword searches provided by Peters to identify certain responsive emails that should be withheld from the SEC.

The SEC's complaint, filed on Friday in federal court in Raleigh, charges Beane, Deckert and Laska with aiding and abetting VisionQuest's violations of the books and records, and seeks injunctions and civil monetary penalties against each defendant.

The SEC said Deckert has, without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, consented to a judgment that enjoins him from aiding and abetting violations of these provisions, and orders him to pay a $30,000 penalty. He also has been barred from the industry.