Purported Environmental Product Inventor and Developer Pleads Guilty in $5 Million Dollar Fraud Scheme
Earlier today, Theodore Sweeten, the president of Symtech International, Inc. (“Symtech”), pleaded guilty to a charge of wire fraud before United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York. When sentenced, Sweeten faces a maximum sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment.
The guilty plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
Sweeten, who claimed he developed and patented the “Clean Air Valve,” among other environmental products, admitted at his guilty plea that he defrauded an investor of $5 million by lying to him about his expertise in their joint venture agreement. The indictment charged Sweeten, and two others, with inducing the victim to make the investment in order to “lease” a credit line of $100 million, which in turn would enable him to generate millions of dollars in profit through special investment programs.1 In furtherance of that scheme, the indictment alleges that the defendants falsely represented that the victim’s funds would be held in an attorney escrow account pending confirmation of the posting of $100 million in the leased-funds account. In fact, they simply distributed the victim’s $5 million among themselves and falsely represented that a $100 million account had been created at HSBC by sending the victim fabricated bank documents on HSBC letterhead.
“Theodore Sweeten defrauded an investor of his hard-earned savings through fanciful tales about his investment and environmental expertise, but the only expertise Sweeten truly had was being a con man,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This Office, together with our law enforcement colleagues, will vigorously pursue those who prey on unsuspecting investors.” Ms. Lynch expressed her appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency responsible for leading the government’s investigation.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Winston M. Paes and Marcia M. Henry.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
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