Light and Shadow

1791 MANAGEMENT Co.

A Failed City Council Candidate, A Fake Law Firm, And The Dubious Cases Against Energy Vault Holdings And The Black Rifle Coffee Company
  • 1791 Management Company's Jonathan Wallentine was sued for fraud in 2014.

  • Hittelman Strunk does not exist according to attorney Steven Hittelman.

  • Attorney for 1791 Management Company was once sued by Charles Schwab for libel.

A failed Laguna Niguel, CA city council candidate, with a history of being sued for fraud, has recently filed two simultaneous lawsuits against two publicly-traded companies, while a website masquerading as a law firm's solicits litigants for potential class actions against the same companies.

On May 20th, Jonathan Wallentine, of 1791 Management Company, filed dual lawsuits against Energy Vault Holdings (NRGV) and Black Rifle Coffee Company (BRCC), accusing both of securities violations.

Wallentine, an actuary and self-proclaimed “finance practitioner,” who spent a total of $3 on his 2016 city council campaign, only to finish fifth out of seven candidates, controls 1791 Management Company as a subsidiary of his Las Vegas, NV-based Actuarial Management Corporation.

Through a series of May press releases, 1791 launched parallel public relations campaigns against both Energy Vault Holdings and the Black Rifle Coffee Company, culminating in the filing of the lawsuits.

Filed in Orange County, CA Superior Court, they contain similar allegations of corporate mismanagement leading to shareholder losses for each of the companies--this in spite of an overall downtrend in global equity markets.

Both Energy Vault Holdings and Black Rifle Coffee Company went public via SPAC mergers in February of this year.

Wallentine’s attacks on the companies are duplicative of another attempt against both Energy Vault Holdings and Black Rifle Coffee Company, this one soliciting litigants for potential class-action lawsuits generated by what appears to be a Newport Beach, CA based law firm called Hittelman Strunk.

A May 3 press release pushing the same issues as those raised by Wallentine’s 1791 Management Company were posted in the news section of what looks like a website for the alleged Hittelman Strunk firm.

However, our research shows that the Hittleman and Strunk Law Group shuttered in 2020 and the Hittleman Strunk website, listed on the Hittelman Strunk press releases is an apparent impersonation. The phone number listed on the purported law firm's website also directs to a web-based voicemail service. Additionally, the HittelmanStrunk.com site lists no attorneys or partner biographies.

California attorneys Steven G. Hittelman and Kerri L. Strunk of the now defunct family law practice Hittleman and Strunk Law Group are well-respected, certified family law attorneys practicing in Orange County. Court records show that the Hittelman Strunk Law Group represented Wallentine’s now ex-wife in the couple’s 2019 divorce.

When reached by phone, Hittelman verified that he was unaware of the bogus website and he confirmed that the pair are not involved in the claims against NRVG and BRCC.

Leonard Steiner of Steiner & Libo LLP is listed as the plaintiff’s co-counsel in 1791 Management Company’s complaint against Black Rifle Coffee Company. Steiner, notably was sued in 2014 by Charles Schwab and his son for libel, stemming from the creation of a scurrilous website, according to press reports.

Black Rifle Coffee Company has posted a statement on its website to customers, employees and investors that simply says, “BRCC is dedicated to its customers and the veteran, first responder and active duty military communities. We are committed to delivering shareholder returns through long-term, sustainable growth. BRCC has invested in a best-in-class independent board of directors, a highly experienced management team and globally-recognized outside advisors.”

NRGV at post time has yet to respond publicly to the 1791 Management Company suit.

Impersonation and fraud go hand in hand.

In addition to being sued for property fraud in 2017, it would appear that Jonathan Wallentine has now turned his hand to impersonating attorneys. The made-up law firm of Hittelman Strunk, which has been pursuing the same claims against NRGV and BRCC as 1791 Management Company, is fake. It seems that someone, likely Wallentine, created the fake firm's website, named after a now-defunct real firm of family law attorneys of the same name. That firm shut its doors in 2020, but had previously represented Wallentine's wife against him during their divorce.

 

Attorney Steven G. Hittelman has denied any involvement in the fake firm or the legal action against NRGV and BRCC.

There are also questions hanging over the law firm named as lead counsel in the lawsuits against BRCC and NRGV. Leonard Steiner of Steiner & Libo LLP was sued in 2014 by Charles Schwab and his son for libel, stemming from the creation of a scurrilous website, according to press reports.

Meet Jonathan Wallentine

The man behind 1791 Management Company is Jonathan Wallentine.

An actuary and self-proclaimed “finance practitioner,” Wallentine was sued for property fraud in Orange County Superior Court in 2017.

But Jonathan Wallentine also has a dark side, which came bursting to the surface during his very messy divorce.

 

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