Waltham Man Sentenced for Defrauding Customers of Former Newton Travel Agency
BOSTON – A Waltham man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with a scheme in which he defrauded hundreds of customers of the now-defunct Tom Harper Cruises of more than $2.9 million in cruise trip deposits.
Bret A. Gordon, 44, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to 46 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $2,891,092 in restitution to victims. In November 2016, Gordon pleaded guilty to six counts of wire fraud and two counts of filing a false personal tax return.
In 2013, Gordon established and owned a 65% interest in Tom Harper Cruises, a business selling overseas river cruise vacations. As the company’s manager, Gordon had exclusive control of its bank accounts and finances. Soon after Tom Harper Cruises began operating, Gordon started to take money from its bank account for his own use, primarily for casino gambling. Most of the funds Gordon took were customer deposits for trips that the company needed to retain in order to pay the independent cruise companies that operated those trips.
As Gordon’s conversion of company funds increased, Tom Harper Cruises became unable to pay some of its regular business expenses and, inevitably, to pay the independent cruise companies for the trips ordered by customers. In June 2015, Tom Harper Cruises closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy. Between September 2013 and June 2015, Gordon took about $2,258,500 from Tom Harper Cruise’s accounts for his own use. About 400 customers were left without the trips they planned for, after paying Tom Harper Cruises a total of approximately $2.9 million.
Gordon also failed to report the money he had taken as income on his personal income tax returns. He failed to report about $165,000 that he received in 2013, and about $900,000 that he had taken in 2014.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office; and Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Balthazard of Weinreb’s Economic Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.