By Allan Lengel
Under the category of “no laughing matter” comes Daniel Laikin, 47, the former CEO of National Lampoon.
Laikin, a resident of both Indianapolis and Los Angeles, pleaded guilty on Wednesday in Philadelphia to conspiracy to manipulate the humor company’s stock price from March through June 2008 by artificially increasing the price, according to a Justice Department press release  . Yes, this is no laughing matter.
He faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Jan. 13. The case was handled out of Philadelphia and investigated by the FBI and Securities Exchange Commission.
The press release laid out the crime as follows:
“As part of this conspiracy, Laikin enlisted a number of other individuals to help him artificially inflate the price of the stock.
“Specifically, Laikin paid kickbacks to individuals to generate buying in the stock, that was not based on free market forces, to make it appear as if there was significant interest in the stock when, in fact, there was little or no such interest.”
“Laikin also provided non-public information to his co-conspirators, including information regarding the company’s unannounced financial results. He also coordinated press releases to provide a pretext for their increased buying.
“At the time of the crime, National Lampoon was publicly traded under symbol “NLN” on the American Stock Exchange. Once this scheme became public, National Lampoon’s share price lost approximately 80 percent of its value over three days. As a result, National Lampoon was removed from its listing on the American Stock Exchange and now trades as an over-the-counter or “penny stock.”