A Freeport-based concert promoter who raised millions from investors to promote Christian music is accused of defrauding more than 100 investors.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Portland, said Jeffrey E. Wall, 55, and his business, Lighthouse Events LLC, raised more than $3 million from 145 investors between January 2014 and October 2018 to promote Christian music and festivals throughout New England.
Wall and Lighthouse Events falsely told investors their funds would be used solely for music promotion and that their repayment was “secured” and “guaranteed” within a year of their investment, according to the SEC.
But, as the SEC alleges, investors’ money was used to pay down Lighthouse’s debt and to make payments to earlier investors using later investors’ money. Wall and Lighthouse also were accused of failing to disclose to investors information about Lighthouse’s “deteriorating” financial condition amid declining ticket sales and growing interest on short-term loans and its inability to repay investors as promised.
“Neither Wall nor Lighthouse pledged any collateral and they had no assets or other way to repay investors if Lighthouse failed to generate a sufficient profit from ticket sales,” the SEC complaint reads.
As early as 2014, Wall and Lighthouse borrowed approximately $700,000 in short-term loans from more than a dozen lenders, most of which happened after mid-2016, according to the SEC. Repayments on those loans, including interest, totaled approximately $1.1 million between 2014 and October 2018, according to the complaint.
Unable to repay the debts, at least five lenders between October 2017 and June 2018 obtained court-ordered judgments against Wall and Lighthouse for more than $142,000, according to the SEC. Those judgments permitted lenders to seize money directly from Wall’s and Lighthouse’s bank accounts as well as proceeds from online ticket sales.
As a result, the SEC said that Wall and Lighthouse failed to repay $1.6 million collected from investors.
Wall was born in California and spent time working as a commercial fisherman in Alaska before taking a job at a Christian radio station, according to his biography on Lighthouse Events’ website. He moved to Maine in 2007 with his wife, Gail Wall, and their children.
In 2008, Jeffrey and Gail Wall started Lighthouse Events, hosting hundreds of concerts and bringing Christian musicians such as Matthew West, Bebo Norman, Natalie Grant, John Waller, MercyMe and others to perform across Maine, New Brunswick, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to Lighthouse Events’ website.
Lighthouse is operated out of the Walls’ home in Freeport, according to the SEC.
Lighthouse Events has a number of upcoming shows through November, including several in Maine, according to its website.