Convicted Ponzi Schemer and Alleged Conspirator Indicted for Multimillion-Dollar Fraud Scheme and Obstruction of Justice
NEWARK, N.J. – A Connecticut man today admitted orchestrating a $2.19 million scheme to defraud an alcohol company and its owner by causing them to overpay for champagne and cognac and collecting kickbacks based on the inflated prices, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Mitchell E. Green, 44, of Westport, Connecticut, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Michael E. Farbiarz in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud.
“As Green has discovered, there’s no such thing as easy money,” FBI-Newark Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said. “The FBI works tirelessly to ensure that the consequences for this type of fraud far outweigh the initial payout.”
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
From June 2017 through February 2020, Green worked for a Hoboken, New Jersey-based liquor company owned by an internationally recognized music artist, producer, and entrepreneur. Green secretly negotiated side agreements with two French distilleries to pay him kickbacks through his company, Q Branch LLC, for each bottle of champagne and cognac that Green’s employer purchased from the distilleries. Green caused his employer to unknowingly pay the cost of his kickbacks by hiding it in the per-bottle price that the distilleries charged for the champagne and cognac. Based on those inflated prices, Green’s employer paid $14.8 million for the champagne and cognac, and Green collected $2.19 million in hidden kickbacks from the French champagne and cognac distilleries.
The charge of wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000, twice the gross profits or twice the gross loss suffered to the victims of his offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 23, 2024.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Blake Coppotelli of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit and Ari B. Fontecchio of the Special Prosecutions Division..