BOSTON – A Connecticut man was arrested today on charges arising from a scheme to fraudulently obtain over $500,000 from his former employer, New England Sports Network (NESN).
Ariel Legassa, 49, of Burlington, Conn., was charged with one count of mail fraud. Legassa made his initial appearance in federal court in the District of Connecticut today and will appear in federal court in the District of Massachusetts at a later date.
According to the charging documents, from approximately December 2020 to January 2022, Legassa orchestrated a scheme to defraud NESN. It is alleged that as Legassa negotiated a legitimate contract with a New York company to provide web development services for NESN, Legassa simultaneously created a fictitious business under a similar name in Connecticut that he then used to receive fraudulent payments from NESN. During the pendency of the legitimate contract between the New York company and NESN, in addition to approving legitimate invoices from the New York company, Legassa allegedly created and approved several fake invoices from the Connecticut company. In all, it is alleged that NESN paid the Connecticut company, which did not have an actual business purpose, $575,500 into an account controlled by Legassa, who then spent the funds on personal expenses and transferred the funds into other accounts under his control.
The charge of mail fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin A. Saltzman of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.