Former President of Long Island-based Company Charged in Multi-million Dollar Fraud Scheme
A complaint was unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn charging YOSHIO YAMAKI, the former president of the Ronkonkoma, New York-based Sigma Corporation of America (“Sigma USA”), for his participation in an invoice fraud and embezzlement scheme involving the theft of at least $7.3 million dollars from his former employer.1 Sigma USA is the sales, service, and distribution arm in the United States of its parent company, the Sigma Corporation of Japan, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of photography lenses and equipment. YAMAKI was arrested earlier today, and his initial appearance is scheduled this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge James Orenstein, at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.
The case was announced by Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ron Walker, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division.
According to the complaint, YAMAKI was employed as the President of Sigma USA from March 1985 until January 10, 2005, during which time he also served on the Board of Directors of the Sigma Corporation. YAMAKI’s responsibilities included overseeing Sigma USA’s operations and sales, as well as balancing the corporate books, writing and signing checks, and managing Sigma USA’s accounts payable and receivable.
The complaint alleges that between 1998 and January 2005, YAMAKI embezzled millions of dollars from Sigma USA in two ways. First, between May 1999 and January 2005, YAMAKI caused Sigma USA to issue over $1.6 million in checks to a company called New York Network, for purported advertising expenses. In fact, there is no evidence that such services were actually rendered. Furthermore, during the same period, New York Network funneled a substantial portion of these funds -- over $1.2 million -- back to YAMAKI. Second, YAMAKI caused Sigma USA to issue in excess of $6.6 million in checks to himself between approximately 1998 and January 2005.2 These checks far exceeded YAMAKI’s salary during the same period, which amounted to a total of about $1.3 million. YAMAKI allegedly used the stolen funds to pay nearly $5 million to various casinos, and in excess of $900,000 to credit card carriers for his personal credit cards.
The complaint charges that the scheme began to unravel in December 2004, after the Sigma Corporation’s chief executive officer received an anonymous e-mail message indicating that YAMAKI regularly visited casinos and gambled large sums of money, and that YAMAKI might be embezzling company funds to support this lifestyle. In January 2005, after YAMAKI apparently learned that the allegations in the e-mail message were being investigated by Sigma Corporation, his letter of resignation was found in his company car, which had been abandoned in the Sigma USA parking lot.
“When corporate executives loot their companies’ treasuries to finance lavish personal lifestyles, they can expect to be met by the full resources of law enforcement,” stated United States Attorney Mauskopf. “Corporate fraud continues to be a priority of this office.” Ms. Mauskopf added that the investigation is continuing.
New York Postal Inspector-in-Charge Walker stated, “This defendant is one of a number of corporate executives who, over the years, have broken the law, betrayed their company’s trust for personal gain, and were caught by law enforcement. Yamaki embezzled corporate funds because he gambled and lost in the casinos, and I’m confident he’ll lose again, this time in court.”
The complaint charges YAMAKI with a scheme to transfer stolen property in interstate commerce in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2314. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of ten year’s imprisonment, a $250,000 fine (or twice the gross gain or loss as a result of the offense), and an order of restitution.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Taryn A. Merkl.
Name: YOSHIO YAMAKI
2Of the total $8.2 million embezzlement, approximately $875,000 was transferred back
to Sigma USA between 2001 and 2004 -- approximately $474,000 by YAMAKI and
approximately $401,000 by New York Network.
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