As SEC crackdown loomed and business fell, Par Funding’s founders bought watches — for $154,000

After they stopped making payments to investors and as a federal civil fraud case loomed, the two founders of Par Funding — a twice-convicted felon and his wife — made one last big purchase.

They bought themselves two watches — for a total of $154,000.

Now, the court-appointed receiver charged with helping investors recover their money says the couple, Joseph W. LaForte and Lisa McElhone, used investors’ money to pay for the watches and dummied up bogus paperwork to hide it.

The couple denies that. Their lawyer says that the pair bought the watches with their own money, and that it is “shameful” for the receiver to parade their luxury purchases in front of already aggrieved investors.

The case of the Swiss watches made by the Patek Philippe company, one of the world’s oldest luxury timepiece makers, is laid out in the latest filings in the sweeping fraud case brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against LaForte and McElhone….

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