2 Plead Guilty Over Counterfeit Stocks

A professional gambler and a small-business woman pleaded guilty Monday to issuing $16 million worth of counterfeit stock in MindArrow Systems Inc., an Aliso Viejo software firm that helps companies advertise over the Internet.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter accepted the pleas of Maseia “Matthew” Bardasian, 68, and Nikki Ann Daly, 43, Reno residents who are cooperating with an investigation of the fraud. The pair won’t be sentenced until after they finish cooperating with the government.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Bardasian could be given four to six years in prison and Daly two or three years for mail fraud and money laundering. Assistant U.S. Atty. John Hueston said the investigation into whether others were involved could take three to six months.

Nasdaq suspended trading in MindArrow shares for three months after the fraud was disclosed last February. The stock reached a high of $51.25 in March 2000, was at $4.50 when trading was frozen and closed Monday at $1.17, down 18 cents a share.