Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Two Separate Fraud Schemes for Stealing $668,000 from Employer and Incapacitated Relative
Both Frauds Ran Simultaneously
WASHINGTON – Zevi Chaim Mehlman, 52, of Silver Spring, Md., pled guilty today to federal charges of wire fraud and mail fraud for a pair of schemes in which he stole $96,000 from a school where he was working and an additional $572,000 from a relative.
U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, Brian J. Ebert, Special Agent in Charge, Washington Field Office, U.S. Secret Service, and Robert B. Wemyss, Inspector in Charge, Washington Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement.
Mehlman pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Each of the charges carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and potential financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Mehlman faces a likely range of 51 to 63 months in prison and a fine of up to $200,000. He has agreed to pay a total of $668,000 in restitution to the victims and an identical amount in a forfeiture money judgment. The Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan scheduled sentencing for Aug. 8, 2018.
According to a statement of offense submitted at the plea hearing, one scheme was carried out by Mehlman against his then-employer, the Washington International School. Mehlman worked for the school from September 2008 until November 2015, initially running its computer network before becoming Assistant Director of Information Services.
At Mehlman’s request, the school provided him with two credit cards so that he could assist in the purchase of computers. From August 2014 until October 2015, Mehlman used the credit cards to make approximately 50 unauthorized purchases of Apple computer equipment. This equipment was not purchased for the school’s use. Instead, Mehlman returned the equipment to Apple and instructed Apple to place the credit onto his own personal debit cards. The total amount that Mehlman generated through this scheme was approximately $96,000.
The school’s leadership confronted Mehlman about the purchases in November 2015, and he admitted his actions and apologized. The school terminated his employment soon afterward.
According to the statement of offense, Mehlman carried out the second scheme against his uncle. In 2003, his uncle gave power of attorney to Mehlman to conduct financial affairs for him. In 2012, the District of Columbia’s Adult Protective Services filed a court petition seeking the appointment of a guardian and conservator for the uncle. The agency filed the petition after it was informed that approximately $1.2 million had been withdrawn from his brokerage accounts in 2010 and 2011. In the petition, the agency alleged that the uncle was an incapacitated individual who needed 24-hour care and who was unable to handle his finances and living arrangements. On May 3, 2012, the Court appointed co-guardians and co-conservators and revoked Mehlman’s power of attorney.
A copy of the Court’s order was mailed to Mehlman. Despite that order, and without the knowledge of the guardians and conservators, from May 17, 2012 until May 28, 2016, Mehlman wrote dozens of checks and stole approximately $572,000 from one of his uncle’s accounts.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu, Special Agent in Charge Ebert, and Inspector in Charge Wemyss commended the work of those who investigated the case from the U.S. Secret Service. They also expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who investigated the case from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, including Grace Gale, Investigative Support Analyst. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the matter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Criminal Investigator Nicole Hinson, Paralegal Specialists Kristy Penny and Joshua Fein, former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Marina Stevenson, who assisted with forfeiture issues, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Saler, who is investigating and prosecuting the case.