Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Samsung America Director Sentenced To 75 Months In Prison For Embezzling More Than $1 Million

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

NEWARK, N.J. – A former director of Samsung America Inc.’s Korea Export Department was sentenced today to 75 months in prison for his role in a scheme to embezzle more than $1 million from the company from 2002 through 2007, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

John Y. Lee, a/k/a “Yong Kook Lee,” 53, of West New York, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud and one count of subscribing to false individual income tax returns. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

During his plea hearing, Lee admitted his role in an elaborate scheme to embezzle funds from Samsung America, a Ridgefield Park-based global trading and investment company and American subsidiary of the Korean conglomerate Samsung Corp.

Lee admitted that in September 2000, he created a fictitious entity that he called the Engelhard Supple (sic) Co. to make it appear as though that entity was actually Engelhard Corp., a provider of metal refining services based in Iselin, New Jersey. Lee admitted creating numerous false financial documents, including invoices, purchase orders and payment applications that made it appear that Samsung Corning Precision Glass Ltd., a joint venture involving the Samsung Corporation and Corning Inc., had ordered services from Engelhard. In fact, no real services had been ordered or provided. Lee simply submitted these fraudulent documents to Samsung America to induce Samsung America to wire money directly into a bank account Lee controlled.

In an effort to conceal his fraudulent conduct, Lee sent false documents to Samsung America’s accounting department. In his plea agreement, Lee admitted that the loss to the company was between $1 million and $2.5 million. He also acknowledged that he signed and filed a 2006 Individual Income Tax Return that failed to include $339,138 he had embezzled from Samsung America in 2006.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton sentenced Lee to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay to Samsung America Inc. restitution of $1,693,271.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and investigators from the N.J. Division of Criminal Justice, under the direction of Acting N.J. Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Raney of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s General Crimes Unit.

Defense Counsel: Paul Brickfield Esq., River Edge, New Jersey

Updated September 1, 2016

Press Release Number: 16-189