WASHINGTON (AP) _ A broker, a New York law firm, and two companies agreed Wednesday to settle charges they evaded federal securities laws through illegal overseas stock sales.

Salvatore Mazzeo, 47, president and and co-owner of the now-defunct brokerage Westfield Financial Corp., agreed to a five-month suspension by the Securities and Exchange Commission and to obey regulations in future.

Law firm Schneck, Weltman Hashmall & Mischel and two companies, Candie's Inc., a Purchase, N.Y.-based women's shoe company and Delaware-based Response USA, maker of emergency response systems agreed to obey securities laws in the future.

All four defendants settled the SEC's charges without admitting or denying wrongdoing.

The SEC's charges concern a scheme to evade federal laws that require companies to register sales of their stocks and bonds with the government. The SEC has been trying to crack down on companies that claim to sell securities to foreign investors, thereby evading registration rules, when the securities actually remain in the U.S. market.

Such a scheme can hurt investors because the additional sales of stock can dilute the value of a company's existing securities.

The SEC charged that at total of $3.73 million worth of stock in Candie's and Response USA was sold in four separate offerings in 1993, purportedly to foreign investors when actually the shares remained in the U.S. market. The Schneck Weltman firm arranged the four transactions, the SEC said.

The unregistered stock was sold to the foreign investors at a substantial discount in return for a short-term loan in the form of promissory notes.

Jonathan Price, an attorney for Schneck Weltman, said the firm agreed to settle the case after weighing the time, effort and expense of contesting the SEC's charges.

Telephone calls to attorneys for the other defendants weren't immediately returned.