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Press Release

Warren County Man Indicted for Defrauding Investors, Failing to File Tax Returns

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

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Michael E. Conner, age 55, of Warrensburg, New York, was arraigned today on an indictment charging him with perpetrating a scheme to defraud investors.

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Thomas Fattorusso, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement.

According to the indictment, Conner held himself out to be an inventor of household products and to hold patents on his inventions, such as a knife with a heated blade and a rotatable refrigerator shelf. Starting in about 2008, Conner convinced other people to invest in his patents and loan him money that would help him market and sell his patents.

The indictment alleges that Conner fraudulently sought and obtained loans from investors, who believed they were loaning money to Conner for business purposes, including to complete the sale of his patents, and to pay attorney’s fees and accountant’s fees associated with anticipated patent sales. But Conner had no intention of using the loaned funds for business purposes, and instead used the money for personal expenses and to fund his lifestyle. Since 2008, Conner has received, from investors, approximately $4 million in connection with this fraudulent scheme; he has also never sold a patent or earned revenue from any of his inventions.

The indictment also alleges that Conner failed to file personal income tax returns, despite knowing he had an obligation to do so, during tax years 2017 through 2021. Conner, who moved from Virginia to New York in 2017, has not filed a personal income tax return since 2008.

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Conner appeared today in Albany before United States Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel, and was ordered released pending a bail hearing scheduled for January 19, 2024.

Conner is charged with 23 counts of wire fraud and 5 counts of failing to file a tax return. On the wire fraud charges, Conner faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years. On the tax charges, which are misdemeanors, Conner faces up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $100,000. 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.

IRS-CI is investigating this case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett is prosecuting this case.

Updated January 17, 2024

Financial Fraud