Long Island Man Sentenced To Over 9 Years In Prison For Defrauding South Korean Religious School Of More Than $5 Million
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that WILLIAM COSME, a/k/a WILLIAM COSMO, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court today to 111 months in prison for orchestrating a scheme to defraud a Christian missionary school in South Korea of $5.5 million. On March 21, 2017, a jury convicted COSME of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft following a one-week trial before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska, who also imposed today’s sentence.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “William Cosme defrauded an international school in Korea of more than $5 million by telling a series of brazen lies, many that he continued to tell on the stand at trial. Instead of investing the school’s money meant for educating children as he had promised, Cosme spent it on himself, on a Lamborghini, Ferrari, gambling, and other personal expenses. Thanks to the hard work of the FBI, Cosme will now spend time in a federal prison.”
According to the Indictment and other filings in Manhattan federal court, statements made in connection with COSME’s sentencing proceedings, and evidence admitted at trial:
COSME purported to operate a “privately held, global, private equity family practice with a concentration on it’s [sic] own family’s private wealth management, commercial [real estate], physical gold trade and business consulting.” COSME further claimed that the entity through which he did business “manage[d] family assets with a net asset value in excess of USD $11b on a global basis” and that his clientele included royalty and the families of royalty.
In January 2011, COSME, acting through his company Cosmo Dabi International Trading Group Inc. (“Cosmo Dabi”), entered into an agreement with an international school located in South Korea (the “International School”) whereby Cosmo Dabi would lend the International School approximately $55 million and the International School would make a deposit of approximately $5.5 million (the “Equity Deposit”), which COSME would invest in order to generate funds to loan the International School. The International School sought to use the proceeds of the loan to expand its operations in South Korea.
In January 2011, the International School sent by wire transfer approximately $5.5 million to an account maintained by COSME at a bank.
Thereafter, COSME transferred the funds that the International School had entrusted to him into other accounts, including accounts in his own name rather than that of his company. From the other accounts, COSME began a run of unauthorized personal spending, including a Lamborghini costing nearly $314,000 (which itself was meant to secure COSME a preferred spot on a waiting list to purchase an even more expensive Lamborghini); a Ferrari costing nearly $287,000; a Cadillac Escalade; a sport utility vehicle for a family member of COSME’s; a 110-day gambling trip to Las Vegas; gaming losses while on that trip in excess of $200,000; paying for his girlfriend’s rent; and otherwise funding a lavish lifestyle. All the while, COSME made a series of misrepresentations to the leadership of the International School as to why they had not been issued their promised loan payments, and devised and executed a sham audit process in order to convince the International School that they were in default of their agreement and that COSME could keep the school’s deposit for himself.
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In addition to his prison sentence, COSME, 51, of Jericho, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit, among other things, the contents of two financial services accounts containing more than $2 million, as well as the luxury automobiles he purchased with the stolen funds. Restitution was also ordered in the amount of $5.5 million.
Mr. Kim praised the outstanding efforts of Federal Bureau of Investigation in the investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah D. Solowiejczyk and Martin S. Bell are in charge of the prosecution.