President Of Office Equipment Leasing Company Pleads Guilty For Engaging In Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme
Defendant Forged Signature of New York Mets COO Jeffrey Wilpon
Earlier today, Michael Conway, the President of Choice Office Solutions LLC, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with a scheme where he forged numerous lease agreements to defraud an individual investor and De Lage Landen Financial Solutions Partner (DLLFSP) of more than $3.5 million. Pursuant to his plea agreement with the government, Conway has agreed that he is liable to pay restitution in the amount of $3,555,493.40 to the individual investor and $1,203,516 to DLLFSP. When sentenced, Conway faces up to 20 years in prison.
The guilty plea was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).
“Through a web of lies, deceit and forgeries, Michael Conway induced an individual investor and a lending firm to invest millions of dollars with his company. Conway presented his unsuspecting victims with forged lease agreements and represented to them that he had entered into lucrative contracts to lease office equipment with more than 50 companies, including law firms, universities, and a major league baseball franchise, when in reality, a number of these agreements were worthless,” stated United States Attorney Capers.
“Conway swindled investors to the tune of more than $3.5 million through a series of fraudulent business agreements and lies. Today’s plea and agreement to pay restitution should serve as a warning to others who seek to profit through deception,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Rodriguez.
According to court filings and facts presented at the plea hearing, between March 2014 to August 2015, Conway forged lease agreements with various companies in the business of leasing office equipment, and then used these fraudulent agreements to obtain financing from private investors. As part of the scheme, he induced an individual investor to become partners with him in the leasing business. Conway would then purportedly secure a lease from a company, present the signed lease and invoices to the individual investor, who would provide funds to purchase the office equipment to be leased. In this manner, Conway presented the individual investor with leases from approximately 58 companies, including law firms, universities, hospitals, and hotels, and the individual investor paid Conway approximately $3.5 million to purchase office equipment. In reality, most of the leasing agreements that Conway provided to the individual investor were fraudulent, and Conway pocketed most of the individual investor’s money.
One of the fraudulent leasing agreements was purportedly with the New York Mets. Relying on it, the individual investor wire transferred approximately $500,000 to Conway’s bank account to purchase office equipment. Conway then used the same forged lease agreement, and a forged authorization letter from the New York Mets purportedly signed by Jeffrey Wilpon, the team’s Chief Operating Officer, to obtain financing from DLLFSP. Based on these fraudulent documents, DLLFSP wire transferred a total of approximately $313,000 to Conway’s bank account. Through this and other forgeries, Conway defrauded DLLFSP of more than $1 million.
Today’s guilty plea took place before United States District Judge William F. Kuntz.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Winston Paes and David Pitluck are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established 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. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit ww.StopFraud.gov.
Verona, New Jersey
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-052 (WFK)