Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme and Making a False Statement to the FBI
WASHINGTON – James Benjamin, 57, of Ellicott City, Maryland, pled guilty yesterday to a federal charge stemming from making a false statement to the FBI, and to a District of Columbia charge stemming from a scheme to defraud individuals that trusted the defendant to invest money on their behalf announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Benjamin pled guilty before the Honorable Paul L. Friedman in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to engaging in a scheme with intent to defraud, and to obtaining money by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and to unlawfully obtaining over $100,000 for his own personal enrichment. Benjamin also pled guilty to making a false statement to the FBI, after the FBI had seized approximately $450,000 that Benjamin had obtained from investors. In connection with the guilty plea, Benjamin admitted that he had falsely told the FBI that the $450,000 had been “held in trust” for the benefit of an investor, when in fact Benjamin kept the funds in his own bank account. Judge Friedman scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 24, 2019, at which Benjamin faces statutory maximum sentences of ten years and five years in prison, respectively.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu and Assistant Director in Charge McNamara commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office including Paralegal Specialists Jessica McCormick and Chela Okonji, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Demian Ahn and Thomas Swanton, who prosecuted the case.