Ithaca-Area Accountant Pleads Guilty to Bankruptcy Fraud, Mail Fraud, and Money Laundering
CPA Andrew N. LaVigne Concealed Millions of Dollars from the Bankruptcy Court While Claiming Personal Bankruptcy and Defrauded a Client of $1 Million
BINGHAMTON, NEW YORK - Andrew N. LaVigne, age 66, of Lansing, New York, pled guilty today in federal court in Binghamton to bankruptcy fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith, James Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Jonathan D. Larsen, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), New York Field Division.
LaVigne, a Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”) who practiced in the Ithaca, New York, area for more than 30 years, filed for personal bankruptcy in 2004. At the time, he owed approximately $7.6 million to over 80 unsecured creditors following a failed scheme to use their money to purchase sports and entertainment memorabilia and resell it for a profit. During the course of LaVigne’s own years‑long bankruptcy, he claimed his home as his only asset, and he did not pay back his 80 investors. In pleading guilty today, LaVigne admitted that during his bankruptcy he used his CPA practice’s bank accounts to conceal between $3.5 and $9.5 million in assets from the United States Bankruptcy Court and the Office of the United States Trustee. LaVigne laundered money by depositing funds unrelated to his CPA practice into his business accounts and then used that money for his own benefit and that of his family. In doing so, LaVigne used this money to purchase sports memorabilia, and wrote checks to himself that he never disclosed in his bankruptcy proceeding as required by law.
LaVigne also admitted to defrauding a client of $1 million as part of a mail fraud scheme. Between 2014 and 2016, LaVigne convinced the victim, a senior citizen, to pay $3.6 million for shares of a company that LaVigne created, which he (LaVigne) claimed would develop a piece of waterfront property at 101 Pier Road in Ithaca. After the victim bought 90% of the company, LaVigne obtained an additional $1 million from her, purportedly to invest in the company. LaVigne did not use the $1 million to invest in the company, and never developed the property. Instead, he used the victim’s money for his own purposes, which included writing checks to himself, paying for the construction of a house for a family member, and funding payroll for his accounting practice. LaVigne also laundered payments he received from this scheme through his CPA practice accounts.
LaVigne will be sentenced in Binghamton on July 30, 2019 by Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy. At sentencing, LaVigne faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years on the mail fraud count, ten years on the money laundering count, and five years on the bankruptcy fraud count. The defendant also can be sentenced to pay a fine of up to $250,000 on each count, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.
This case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), following a referral from the Office of the United States Trustee for the Northern District of New York. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carina H. Schoenberger and Michael F. Perry.