Alabama gold company’s tout campaign has a familiar look and familiar players

A financial felon who owned millions of shares in an energy company whose stock soared and then plummeted now is one of the funders of a heavily touted gold-mining venture.

Samuel DelPresto — a former brokerage executive who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in connection with a 1990s fraud scheme — has provided more than $500,000 to Southern USA Resources Inc. (OTCBB: SUSA).

Southern USA Resources went public through a reverse merger last April. It says it is developing a gold mine in Alabama, a state that has had no commercial gold production for decades.

Southern USA Resources is the focus of a promotional campaign that began earlier this month and has a budget of at least $900,000.

Our investigation found that the amount being spent to tout the company is seven times greater than the amount of cash and other current assets it listed in its latest quarterly financial report. It also is only slightly lower than the carrying value of all of the company’s assets, including its land, minerals and mining equipment.

Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that DelPresto and four other funders are bankrolling Southern USA Resources in return for notes that can be converted to stock at a fraction of the current market price.

Southern USA Resources’ stock closed Monday at $1.50 a share. At that price, the company had a market capitalization of nearly $45 million.

The shares underlying the $2.6 million in convertible notes that Southern USA Resources has issued to DelPresto and the other funders since the reverse merger would be worth an additional $20 million.

Although the SEC barred Del Presto in 2002 from associating with any broker or dealer, the order did not prohibit him from financing or promoting public companies.

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