Bergen County, New Jersey, Man Admits Embezzling Millions Of Dollars From North Jersey Business
TRENTON, N.J. – The former chief financial officer of a Bergen County business today admitted to embezzling millions of dollars from the company and to evading taxes, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Gomidas Garabed Hartounian, 52, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to a superseding information charging him with one count of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From April 2007 through April 2014, Hartounian was the CFO for “Company A,” a for-profit company with its principal place of business in Englewood, New Jersey. Hartounian is also the sole owner of MGB LLC, a company registered to his residence. Hartounian fraudulently designated MGB as a vendor in Company A’s accounting system without disclosing that he controlled MGB. He directed Company A employees to issue checks to MGB for freight services that MGB supposedly provided Company A. When asked for the MGB invoices, he claimed that he was maintaining them in his office.
Because Hartounian didn’t have sole signatory power, he forged the signatures of the chief executive officer or the chief operating officer before depositing the checks into bank accounts that he controlled. Hartounian also had checks issued directly from Company A bank accounts to pay for his personal expenses, including real estate taxes to the Borough of Franklin Lakes for $6,562 in August 2011.
Hartounian also admitted that he filed a false federal tax return, Form 1040, for the calendar year 2012 in which he knowingly did not report $1.29 million in income that he received as the sole owner of MGB. Instead, Hartounian falsely understated his income for 2012 as $133,290.
The wire fraud count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss resulting from the crime. The tax evasion count carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss resulting from the crime. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 16, 2016.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, and IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana W. Chen 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.
Defense counsel: Alan Silber Esq., Roseland, New Jersey