What for a while was one of the most-talked-about new companies in Wichita is now the subject of a lawsuit that alleges the company is not what it says it is.
A couple of stockholders in SNT Media filed a Dec. 15 lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the company and several former executives that alleges that Wichita-based Social Networking Technology and those former executives didn’t follow rules regarding the sale of stock and also misrepresented several aspects of the business.
Kevin Wagner and SP SNT Holdings LLC say that SNT Media and the executives misrepresented its cash flow and technology among other things and are asking for the return of their $1 million investment plus interest and legal fees.
A Kansas City, Mo.-based attorney for Wagner and SP SNT Holdings, a holding company for stock for another client, says his clients won’t talk about the suit. Nor will he.
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Of all the former executives named as defendants in the suit – Kevin Owens, Stuart Bruck, David McNamee, Massimo Messina and Sharon Amezcua – only Owens could be reached for comment on Thursday.
“I can’t discuss anything about it because it’s a suit,” Owens says.
Nor did current officials with SNT return a call for comment.
In a May 2015 article in The Wichita Eagle, Bruck, who was then SNT’s chairman, explained that the company is about “big data.”
“We have met with several big, iconic companies in technology over the years – we are only four years old – and they say we are leading the industry in really bringing big media to consumers through big data, which is something a lot of people talk about and we are trying to put to practical use.”
SNT, which started in California, then had 50 employees. At the time, Owens said it was moving to Wichita because of the quality of subcontractors here and that it would hire another 50 people. SNT rapidly expanded in the High Touch building downtown.
According to the lawsuit, “Defendants created an organized ring of sales people, agents, and attorneys, to actively market and advertise their business and to generally solicit a broad audience of investors for same.”
Around December 2016, the plaintiffs say they were approached about purchasing shares. They allege that the company and its executives said that Amezcua invested money in SNT and had been a successful banker who specialized in technology firms and built more than 700 companies.
They further allege that they were told SNT had enough money to operate and needed more money merely to grow and that the company had a competitive advantage with “proven proprietary artificial intelligence technology.”
The plaintiffs say that after they invested in SNT, they learned that Amezcua hadn’t invested in the company and didn’t have major business successes, nor did SNT have enough money to operate or have the technology it said it did.
The suit alleges that in addition to not following rules related to registering the stock they offered for sale, Amezcua improperly acted as an unlicensed broker and received fees for soliciting investors. Also, the suit alleges that SNT acted as an unregistered broker and unlawfully paid commissions.
In addition, the suit alleges that SNT failed to disclose a sexual harassment claim against Bruck that had been settled.
“If Plaintiffs had known of the above described misrepresentations and omissions, they would not have invested in the Company,” the suit says.
Council member Lavonta Williams withdrew a plan to spend $290,000 deploying high-tech camera coverage to fight crime in the 1st District. (Video by Candi Bolden) McClatchycbolden@wichitaeagle.com