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Press Release

Former New York Attorney Sentenced To Fifty Months In Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – Leigh E. Sprague was sentenced yesterday to fifty months in prison and ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution after being convicted of transporting stolen money in foreign commerce, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.

Sprague, 43, of Fort Atkinson, Wis., pleaded guilty on Dec. 16, 2013, to transporting more than $5 million of stolen funds in foreign commerce. According to court records, Sprague graduated from Columbia Law School and then worked in two large law firms in New York, eventually transferring to a law firm’s Moscow office. After leaving the law firm, in 2007 he joined United Company Rusal in Moscow, where he served as the Head of the Corporate Finance Unit until he was fired in April 2011.

In June 2010, Sprague incorporated a shell corporation set up in the Republic of Seychelles. Although Sprague owned and managed the shell corporation, he forged a stock certificate falsely reflecting that the shell corporation was owned by his employer. After setting up a bank account in Geneva, Switzerland, in the name of the shell company, Sprague falsely represented to Goldman Sachs that he was authorized to direct Goldman to liquidate $10 million of an asset belonging to Sprague’s corporate employer. Relying on Sprague’s false statements and forged documents, Goldman liquidated $10 million of the asset and paid that amount into the shell company’s Swiss bank account.

According to court records, Sprague then transferred the funds to bank accounts he controlled in various parts of the world, including Belize, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and the United States. He also used the money on lavish personal expenditures, including more than $800,000 on rare collectors’ automobiles, remodeling an ocean-view home he owned in Malibu, Calif., and paying off significant credit card bills. Several months after stealing the $10 million, Sprague allegedly tried to have Goldman liquidate an additional $5 million through the same scheme. Goldman and Sprague’s employer discovered the scheme, however, and did not transfer this money. Sprague then allegedly fled from Moscow.

Sprague transferred more than $5 million of the stolen money to the United States. According to court records, Sprague then tried to transfer much of that money to an account in Belize, but he failed. Law enforcement authorities seized more than $6 million of the stolen funds as well as many luxury collector automobiles Sprague had purchased with the stolen funds. In all, law enforcement authorities and Sprague’s employer have recovered approximately $8.5 million of the $10 million Sprague diverted.

Sprague, formerly resided in New York, N.Y., and in Moscow, Russia. The United States Attorney’s Office filed an Information on Oct. 30, 2013, charging Sprague with one count of transporting stolen money in foreign commerce, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2314.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Thelton E. Henderson, United States District Court Judge, following Sprague’s guilty plea. Judge Henderson also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release and ordered Sprague to pay $1,416,260.85 in restitution. The defendant will begin serving the sentence on May 5, 2014.

Doug Sprague and Patricia Kenney are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rayneisha Booth. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

(Sprague indictment )



Updated November 18, 2014