Branson Stock A No-Show

A Branson, Mo., couple that runs a country & western show has been accused of persuading audience members to invest in the show, then using the money to pay personal expenses.

State Commissioner of Securities Matt Kitzi filed a cease and desist order against Larry and Gwen King in February, alleging they had persuaded at least 25 individuals to invest approximately $160,000 in their country music shows between 2000 and 2005.

Larry King has performed in Branson in King’s Country Music Show, King’s Country Show and Lit’l Nashville Opry.

The Kings would make investment pitches to audience members during and after the gigs, asking for investments ranging from $1,000 to $60,000, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

In one incident, a Minnesota resident attended a performance of the King’s Country Show in September 2002 and noticed a flyer on the table that said those interested in investing in the show could meet with Larry King after the performance, according to the C&D order.

King allegedly told the Minnesotan a minimum investment of 5,000 shares was required at $1 per share. The money would help pay for the show and the investor would eventually receive a return on the investment in the form of dividends once the stock was issued.

In 2003, the investor was informed that Larry King had developed cancer, the C&D says. In 2005, the investor met with the Kings over lunch and was told the company was expected to be incorporated by November.

To date, the Kings’ show has not gone public and the investor has not received a dividend.

The C&D chronicles several similar events that allegedly took place, with the Kings depositing investors’ checks in their business account, then making withdrawals in equivalent amounts soon afterward.

Secretary of State spokesman Mike Seitz told Pollstar the Kings are scheduled to appear before the Commissioner of Securities May 25th, where they could be fined $10,000 for each violation of the Missouri Securities Act of 2003, or their case could be dismissed.

Seitz said the Kings requested a pre-hearing conference scheduled May 11th but failed to appear.

Gwen King responded to Pollstar‘s e-mailed request for comment, saying the accusations are “old news,” and that she would not comment.

– Joe Reinartz