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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Former CEO Of Luggage Manufacturer Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To Three Years In Prison For Multimillion-Dollar Bank Fraud Scheme

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that MARVIN JEMAL, the former Chief Executive Officer of a Manhattan-based company that designed, imported and distributed luggage, business bags, backpacks, and accessories (the “Company”), was sentenced today to three years in prison for orchestrating and carrying out a scheme to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in loans from a commercial bank. To secure the loans, JEMAL and others made false statements and submitted false and phony documents to the bank. JEMAL pled guilty in August 2014 before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who imposed today’s sentence.

According to the Indictment, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made at court proceedings:

From 2007 through October 2009, MARVIN JEMAL and Mark Bernstein, the former CEO and CFO, respectively, of the Company, engaged in a scheme to fraudulently induce a commercial bank based in New York (the “Bank”) to lend millions of dollars to the Company. Among other things, JEMAL and Bernstein knowingly made false representations to the Bank, concealed material facts from the Bank, and submitted false and fraudulent documents to the Bank, including fabricated invoices and shipping documents. In total, the Company obtained approximately $6.9 million in loans from the Bank and defaulted on over $6 million of those loans. Nearly $2.0 million in loans were obtained through the submission of fraudulent information. Moreover, although the loans were purportedly for the benefit of the Company’s business, JEMAL diverted approximately $1.9 million of the loan proceeds to personal bank accounts and used the money to pay for various personal expenses, including mortgage payments on properties he owned, credit card bills, and payments on his Porsche.

The Factoring Agreement

The Company obtained the loans from the Bank as part of a secured credit facility, pursuant to a factoring agreement between the Company and the Bank. Under the terms of the factoring agreement, the Company would assign and sell the Company’s interest in its accounts receivable to the Bank and, in exchange, the Company could borrow from the Bank up to 85% of the value of those receivables. In addition, the Company could borrow up to 50% of the value of its inventory. In order to draw down on its secured credit facility, however, the Company was required to provide the Bank with, among other things, an accurate listing of all accounts receivable, as well as supporting documentation, including copies of (i) relevant underlying invoices and (ii) shipping documents or other proof of delivery.

The Scheme to Obtain Loans Fraudulently

To obtain loans from the Bank fraudulently under the factoring agreement, JEMAL and Bernstein made false statements and submitted false and fraudulent documents to the Bank, including the following:

  • JEMAL and Bernstein sent duplicate and/or fabricated invoices to the Bank that purported to reflect the sale of certain products by the Company and, thus, an outstanding receivable for the Company. In truth, however, the sales reflected on those invoices were false, as those sales either had never occurred or had already been invoiced separately.
  • JEMAL and Bernstein provided fraudulent shipping documents to the Bank to substantiate the purported sales of products by reflecting that those products had been shipped to customers. In truth, however, those shipping documents were false and fraudulent, as the products had not, in fact, been shipped to the customers as reflected in the shipping documents.
  • JEMAL and Bernstein concealed material facts from the Bank, including credits that the Company had provided to certain of its customers (which thereby reduced the total accounts receivable associated with those customers) and instances in which the Company had directly collected and deposited payments from its customers on the same invoices the Company assigned to the Bank.
  • JEMAL and Bernstein provided inaccurate monthly inventory spreadsheets to the Bank which overstated the Company’s existing inventory.

Further, in order to conceal the scheme, JEMAL made various oral misrepresentations to certain representatives of the Bank when those representatives confronted him about irregularities and other issues that the Bank had discovered with respect to the Company’s assignment of its accounts receivable.

In addition to the prison sentence, JEMAL, 61, of Brooklyn, New York, was ordered to pay $2,729,422.71 in restitution to the Bank and to forfeit $2,729,422.71 in criminal proceeds.

Bernstein, 64, of Belle Harbor, New York, pled guilty in October 2013 before U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson for his role in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 15, 2015.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel S. Noble is in charge of the prosecution.

Press Release Number: 
Updated May 15, 2015