A former Long Beach man was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in prison after admitting to running a scam involving a sports drink produced and named after the subject of the inspirational football movie Rudy.
An apologetic Chad Peter Smanjak had been facing up to five years in a federal facility, but U.S. District Judge James Selna in Santa Ana agreed with the 42-year-old's attorney that the defendant had worked with authorities and has been trying to turn his life around.
Smanjak had run what's known as a pump-and-dump stock scheme tied to Rudy Nutrition, which was founded by Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger of Notre Dame football (and movie) fame. Essentially, after trading millions of shares of company stock among themselves and issuing misleading press releases to generate investor interest, Smanjak and others dumped around 600 million shares on the market and made a cool $5 million from about 250 rubes. (Rube-dees?)
That caught the attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008. Ruettiger, who only produced a small amount of sports drinks as the government claimed his company was more about the scamming, was never charged with a crime. However, he did eventually agree to a $382,866 SEC settlement.
Smanjak, meanwhile, fled to South Africa in 2010 to evade the investigation. Two years later, he was arrested in Johannesburg and extradited back to the United States.
He pleaded guilty four years ago to one felony count of conspiring to commit securities fraud.