Banksville Restaurant Owner Pleads Guilty To Fraud Charge
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that BARBARA MEYZEN, a/k/a “Bobbie Meyzen,” the owner and operator of La Cremaillere Restaurant in Banksville, New York, pled guilty to wire fraud in connection with her multi-year scheme to defraud the restaurant’s lenders, mortgagee, bankruptcy creditors, and customers. MEYZEN pled guilty before the Honorable Vincent L. Briccetti in White Plains federal court today.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Barbara Meyzen ran a renowned restaurant that served fine French food. As she admitted today, she also cooked the books and engaged in wholesale fraud, and deceived creditors, the bankruptcy trustee, and FBI agents. That is a recipe for federal prosecution and a potential prison sentence.”
According to the allegations in the Superseding Information to which MEYZEN pled guilty and other court documents:
MEYZEN has owned and operated the La Cremaillere Restaurant in Banksville, New York, since 1993. From August 2015 to July 2016, MEYZEN submitted applications for credit on behalf of La Cremaillere to at least nine lenders, factors, and financiers. In support of those applications, MEYZEN gave the potential lenders La Cremaillere’s bank statements that she had modified to change negative balances to positive balances; to remove references to checks returned for insufficient funds; and to reduce service fees. For example, MEYZEN modified one month’s statement to change a negative beginning balance of $32,865.57 to a positive beginning balance of $27,766.29; to change from negative to positive the negative ending balance for that month of $5,268.13; and to change service charges of $2,385.60 to $8.00. When one lender discovered that MEYZEN had altered the bank statements, MEYZEN created an email account in the name of one of the bank’s officers and sent the lender an email in which she, in the guise of the bank officer, told the lender that the statements were genuine.
MEYZEN also falsely represented to the same lender that the second mortgage on the restaurant’s property in Banksville had been discharged. She created a false satisfaction of mortgage on which she forged the signature of a representative of the restaurant’s second mortgagee, who is MEYZEN’s relative by marriage. MEYZEN filed the false satisfaction of mortgage with the Westchester County Clerk, paid the Clerk’s filing fee, and sent a copy of the filed satisfaction of mortgage to the lender. MEYZEN later denied filing the false satisfaction of mortgage or paying the filing fee when she was interviewed by special agents of the FBI. She told the FBI that she believed a loan broker with whom she had worked in the past, and whom she identified by name, had filed the false satisfaction of mortgage.
Throughout the summer of 2017, MEYZEN charged more than $80,000 in food and restaurant supplies to one of the restaurant’s customers who had left her credit card number on file at the restaurant. When the customer discovered the charges, MEYZEN claimed the charges were a mistake and repeatedly promised to resolve the problem. MEYZEN gave the customer two checks in a total amount of $32,000, but the checks bounced. When she was interviewed by the FBI, MEYZEN denied knowing anything about unauthorized charges to the customer’s credit card or ever speaking with the customer about the unauthorized charges. MEYZEN also denied giving the customer checks.
Meyzen Family Realty Associates, LLC, which owns the real property from which the restaurant operates, filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains in September 2018. La Cremaillere Restaurant Corp., which operates the restaurant, filed for bankruptcy in April 2019. MEYZEN is a part owner of both entities. In May 2019, MEYZEN misled the office of the United States Trustee, which oversees bankruptcy cases, about insurance coverage on the restaurant property. MEYZEN caused her bankruptcy counsel to give the United States Trustee and an attorney for Meyzen Family Realty’s largest creditor documents indicating that the property was insured when, in fact, the insurance coverage had been canceled months earlier for nonpayment. MEYZEN knew that the coverage had been canceled because her insurance broker had communicated with her several times about the cancellation of the policies. In June 2019, MEYZEN falsely testified under oath in a deposition conducted by the United States Trustee that she was not aware that the insurance had been canceled when she caused her attorney to turn the documents over to the United States Trustee.
Two days after La Cremaillere filed for bankruptcy in April 2019, MEYZEN opened a bank account in her name and diverted more than $40,000 of the restaurant’s credit card receipts to that account. MEYZEN used a portion of that money to make payments to a food distributor and to an in-home nursing service. This account was closed on May 1, 2019. On May 7, 2019, MEYZEN opened an account in the name of Honey Bee Farm, LLC, at another bank and diverted La Cremaillere’s credit card receipts, as well as $20,000 in advances on La Cremaillere’s future credit card revenue, to that account. MEYZEN used a portion of that money to make a payment on Meyzen Family Realty’s mortgage and to pay food distributors, two wine wholesalers, a commercial trash service, a tableware and china company, and an employee of La Cremaillere.
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MEYZEN, 57, of Redding, Connecticut, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of MEYZEN will be determined by a judge. MEYZEN is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Briccetti on June 24, 2020.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and the Office of Internal Affairs, New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorney James McMahon is in charge of the prosecution.