Ithaca-Area CPA Sentenced to 87 Months for Bankruptcy Fraud, Mail Fraud, and Money Laundering
Andrew N. LaVigne Ordered to Pay Over $3.6 Million in Restitution to Victims
BINGHAMTON, NEW YORK - Andrew N. LaVigne, age 66, of Lansing, New York, was sentenced today in federal court in Binghamton to serve 87 months in prison for 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, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), New York Field Division.
Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy also ordered LaVigne to pay over $3.6 million in restitution to his victims.
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 for resale. During the course of LaVigne’s years‑long bankruptcy proceedings, he claimed that his only asset was his home. He paid back no money to his 80 investors. In pleading guilty, 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 using that money for his own benefit and that of his family, including buying himself sports memorabilia and writing checks to himself totaling tens of thousands of dollars that were never disclosed in his bankruptcy proceeding.
In pleading guilty, LaVigne also admitted to defrauding an elderly client in a $4.6 million mail fraud scheme. Between 2014 and 2016, LaVigne convinced the elderly victim to pay $3.6 million for shares of a company that LaVigne created, which LaVigne claimed would develop a piece of waterfront property on Pier Road in Ithaca. After the victim bought 90% of the company, LaVigne obtained an additional $1 million from her, purportedly as a further investment in the company. LaVigne did not use the $1 million to invest in the company, and he never developed the property. Instead, he used the victim’s money for his own purposes, including writing checks to himself, paying for the construction of a house for a family member, and funding payroll for his CPA practice. LaVigne also laundered payments he received from this scheme through his CPA practice accounts.
United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith said, “Bankruptcy is intended to give honest debtors a fresh start. Andrew LaVigne is not that honest debtor. He abused the bankruptcy process for his own gain and attempted to leave his creditors with nothing while he hid and spent millions of dollars. Mr. LaVigne’s crimes did not stop there – he lied to an elderly client and defrauded her of millions of dollars that he spent on himself, his family, and his business. Mr. LaVigne’s frauds cost his victims dearly, and I am grateful to our partners at the IRS, the FBI, and the Office of the United States Trustee for helping to bring him to justice.”
“The FBI takes our responsibility to investigate and pursue those who commit fraud for personal gain very seriously,” said James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Albany Field Office. “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who use illegal means and criminal behavior to take advantage of others.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation uses financial investigative expertise to pursue those individuals who engage in corruption as demonstrated in this case by Mr. LaVigne.” said Jonathan D. Larsen, IRS Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office, “Money laundering and fraud constitutes a serious threat to our communities and to the integrity of our financial system; today’s sentence is an example of how the FBI and the IRS work together to make a formidable team as we prosecute the offenders.”
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carina H. Schoenberger and Michael F. Perry.