Your hometown deli in Paulsboro, NJ
A fugitive facing federal criminal stock manipulation charges in the United States in connection with a small New Jersey deli whose parent company was once worth a ridiculous $100 million has been arrested by authorities in a resort town in Thailand.
Peter Coker Jr., who was last known to be based in Hong Kong, is one of three people charged in the case involving deli owner Hometown International and a related shell company, E-Waste.
His father, Peter Coker Sr., 83, and a third defendant, 63-year-old James Patten, were arrested in the case in North Carolina in September and have since appeared in federal court in New Jersey. The elder Coker and Patten appeared remotely via Zoom for a hearing at Camden Courthouse on Tuesday.
The trio are accused of fraudulently inflating the value of public companies that have been marketed as candidates for mergers with private companies.
The Bangkok Post reported that 54-year-old Coker Jr. was arrested on January 11 in a hotel room in Thalang district, Phuket province, Thailand.
The newspaper said Coker Jr. was arrested based on so-called red-black notices from the International Criminal Police Organization Interpol. Local Thai police, working with the FBI, arrested Coker after tracking him to the hotel, The Post reported.
“I can confirm that it happened,” Matt Reilly, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, told CNBC in an email.
Coker Jr. was chairman of Hometown International, whose sole fortune for years was Your Hometown Deli in Paulsboro, New Jersey. His father was a major shareholder in the company, which had a market capitalization of $100 million as of 2021, although the deli had less than $40,000 in annual sales.
Prosecutors said the Cokers and Patten “artificially inflated shares of Hometown International and E-Waste by 939% and 19,900%, respectively,” through rigged stock deals.
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