Unstructured Finance

Tyrone Gilliams keeps going and going despite charges

November 19, 2011

By Matthew Goldstein

It’s been an eventful month for hip-hop promoter and commodities trader Tyrone Gilliams, the man federal authorities allege defrauded investors out of at least $5 million.

The self-styled Philadelphia philanthropist was indicted by federal prosecutors on securities fraud charges on Nov. 14 after being arrested on criminal complaint in October. The Securities and Exchange Commission this week also filed civil fraud charges against the 44-year-old former University of Pennsylvania graduate and college star basketball player.

The SEC complaint and the indictment closely mirror the allegations we first raised against Gilliams in a Special Report in May, which revealed how Gilliams worked with a network of associates across the country to raise at least $5 million from two investment funds and then diverted that money to support his extravagant lifestyle. The money was supposed to be used for trading in Treasury STRIPS and to generate sky-high returns. But federal authorities contend Gilliams and his TL Gilliam LLC trading firm never did any trading as advertised.

Rather, as we first reported, some of the money authorities say went to fund a big weekend long charitable event in Philadelphia that Gilliams hosted last year, which featured a slew of hip-hop stars and other celebrities, including Sean “Diddy” Combs.

In a video we did the day federal prosecutors announced Gilliams arrest in October, I discussed how the Gilliams saga is something of a commentary on how otherwise savvy investors continue to be drawn to unrealistic sounding investment opportunities even after Madoff and Stanford. And in other way, the Gilliams story is also about how many in our society are increasingly drawn to a quest for fame, celebrity and living large. For more than a year, Gilliams had his extravagant lifestyle documented in stylish videos he posted on the web–all in the hopes of getting a reality TV show it appears.

Yet despite all his legal troubles, Gilliams is still at it.

Earlier this month he went on a Philly radio show to talk about his reaction to being a subject of a fight between two of the stars of the reality TV show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta. At least one of the stars on that show was a guest at Gilliams “Joy to the World” festival he staged last year in Philadelphia.

And in that interview he talked about his plans to hold a second charitable gala this December. In the radio interview there was no mention of his many legal troubles.

It’s not clear what will happen to that second festival in light of the indictment. But as they say in TV land, stay tuned.

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