BOSTON – A Connecticut man was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury on charges arising from an alleged scheme to fraudulently obtain over $500,000 from his former employer, New England Sports Network (NESN).
Ariel Legassa, 49, was indicted on seven counts of mail fraud and three counts of unlawful monetary transactions. Legassa was arrested and charged by criminal complaint on Feb. 2, 2022.
According to the charging documents, from approximately December 2020 to January 2022, Legassa orchestrated a scheme to defraud NESN. It is alleged that Legassa negotiated a legitimate contract with a New York company to provide web development services for NESN and 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, such as paying off a car loan, 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. 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.
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.