• 48°

City man pleads guilty to securities laws violations

[8/29/01]A Vicksburg man who claimed to hold revolutionary patents and who accepted more than $200,000 from investors has pleaded guilty to violating securities laws.

Lawrence James Hardge, 36, who gave his address as 1701 Mulberry St., appeared before Warren County Circuit Court Judge Isadore Patrick Monday and pleaded guilty to eight counts of the sale of unregistered securities.

Hardge was released on a $100,000 bond after the brief hearing, pending his sentencing on Nov. 5.

During the November 1999 term of the Warren County grand jury, Hardge was indicted on two counts of felony bad checks. He posted a $90,000 bond, but was arrested by the Vicksburg Police Department two months later on security charges.

Hardge was then indicted by the May 2000 term of the Warren County grand jury on 10 counts of securities fraud and 10 counts of the sale of securities that were not registered with the Secretary of State’s Office, as required by law. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

In November, Hardge could face a maximum of five years in prison and a $25,000 fine on each count.

Warren County District Attorney Gil Martin said that if Hardge pays off more than $200,000 in restitution costs before his sentencing date, the state will recommend leniency.

Hardge ran his company, New Millennium Environmental Research, from December 1997 to January 1998 at an office at the Mulberry Street address. He sold stock to more than 10 people for a product called Knock Out, described as a new concoction that would instantly extinguish flames.

Martin said Hardge went to Texas after authorities filed charges in 1998, but was brought back in January.