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Press Release

Missouri Man Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Tax Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that LYELL CHAMPAGNE, JR., 24, of St. Louis, Missouri, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Sarala V. Nagala in Hartford to charges stemming from two different fraud schemes.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately March 2021 and April 2022, Champagne conspired with Kristian Gupta to obtain online bank account credentials from potential victims, and then transfer money from victims’ bank accounts to cryptocurrency accounts controlled by Champagne and Gupta.  As part of the scheme, Gupta provided Champagne with personal identifying information of victims, and Champagne used that information to open email accounts and accounts at a cryptocurrency exchange.  Champagne and Gupta attempted to recruit bank “insiders” to participate in their scheme, but were disrupted by an undercover law enforcement investigation and failed to transfer any funds from compromised accounts.

In a second scheme, Champagne filed wholly fictitious tax returns for “Shireberk International,” which had no actual business operations, for the 2018 through 2021 tax years.  The returns resulted in a refund of $3,449,935.

Champagne pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years, and one count of filing false claims with the IRS, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

Champagne has agreed to pay restitution of $111,738.52.  The remaining funds were recovered by law enforcement.

Judge Nagala scheduled sentencing for September 10.  Champagne is released on a $200,000 bond pending sentencing.

On April 19, 2024, Gupta, of Port Charlotte, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  He is released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing, which is scheduled for September 19.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Chang.

Updated June 12, 2024

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft