Connecticut Man Convicted of Corporate Fraud Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant defrauded New England Sports Network of over $500,000
BOSTON – A Connecticut man was convicted today by a federal jury in Boston of fraudulently obtaining over $500,000 from his former employer, New England Sports Network (NESN).
Ariel Legassa, 51, was convicted of seven counts of mail fraud and three counts of unlawful monetary transactions. U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani scheduled sentencing for Dec. 20, 2023. In February 2022, Legassa was arrested and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury.
According to evidence presented at trial, from approximately December 2020 to January 2022, Legassa orchestrated a scheme to defraud NESN. In early 2021, Legassa negotiated a contract with a New York company to provide web development services for NESN. At the same time, Legassa created a fake business under the same name as the new vendor. He then used this company to receive fraudulent payments from NESN. During the life of the contract between the New York company and NESN, in addition to approving legitimate invoices from the New York company, Legassa created and approved eleven fake invoices from his fake business. In all, NESN paid Legassa’s fake company $575,500. Legassa then spent the funds on personal expenses, including a private plane, a Tesla, a BMW, a Land Rover and credit card bills. He also transferred the funds into other accounts under his control.
“Mr. Legassa thought he could outsmart NESN and the law. Clearly, he was wrong,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “Today’s jury verdict emphasizes that fraudsters who abuse the trust of their employers like Mr. Legassa will be found and held accountable, no matter how deceptive and sly their schemes may be.”
“Everyone would love more take-home pay, but defrauding your employer clearly isn’t the answer,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Ariel Legassa must have launched this scheme because he thought he’d get away with it. Fortunately, our investigative team —and this jury — didn’t let him and he’ll now be held accountable for his actions.”
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. The charge of unlawful monetary transactions provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting U.S. Attorney Levy and FBI SAC Cohen made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin A. Saltzman and Mackenzie A. Queenin of the Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.
Updated November 5, 2023
Labor & Employment