FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2014
NEWARK, N.J. – A resident of Ohio admitted today to defrauding a charter flight company and other luxury brands of more than $100,000 worth luxury goods and services, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Christopher L. Henderson, 32, of Akron, Ohio, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to an information charging him with wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From May through June of 2013, Henderson and others conspired to fraudulently obtain at least three private charter flights from Jet Aviation, an international business aviation services company, with U.S. headquarters in Teterboro, N.J., which provides charter flight services. Henderson and others also conspired to obtain tens of thousands of dollars in other luxury goods and services, all via sham lines of credit issued to a well-known financial institution, for the defendants’ and others’ use by misrepresenting that they were employees at the financial institution.
On May 5, 2013, an individual using the name “Josh Stevens” called Jet Aviation’s offices in Chicago, Ill. and Van Nuys, Calif., to inquire about its private charter flight services. That individual identified himself as being employed as a senior vice president at a well-known financial institution and provided an email address purporting to be affiliated with the financial institution. A Jet Aviation employee sent a draft Charter Services Agreement to the provided email address. The agreement was signed by “Josh Stevens” and returned to Jet Aviation on May 9, 2013, falsely listing “Josh Stevens” as a senior vice president and Henderson as a vice president of international affairs at the well-known financial institution. The aviation company established an account and a line of credit for $350,000, which the defendants and others used to take four private charter flights.
As a result of their misrepresentations to Jet Aviation, Henderson and others fraudulently obtained private high-end charter flights and limousine car services, with a total approximate value of $175,790, for which Jet Aviation never received payment.
Henderson and others made similar misrepresentations about their purported employment at the financial institution to other luxury service providers and obtained approximately $20,000 in luxury watches, sunglasses, and sterling silver and leather business cardholders, and incurred approximately $25,500 in hotel stays at a luxury hotel in Miami.
As a result of the scheme, Henderson fraudulently obtained more than $135,000 in luxury goods and services.
The wire fraud charge to which Henderson pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for April 15, 2014.
Dante G. Dixon, a co-defendant in this case, pleaded guilty on Dec. 17, 2013, to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Dixon’s sentencing is scheduled for April 23, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Mendelsohn of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.
13-010Defense counsel: Joshua P. Cohn Esq., Saddle Brook, N.J..