Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of a criminal Complaint today charging JONATHAN GHERTLER with engaging in a sophisticated scheme to impersonate senior leaders of two Manhattan-based investment firms, resulting in over $1 million in losses to their portfolio companies, and impersonating a partner of a global law firm on telephone calls with federal agents who were investigating the scheme. GHERTLER was arrested yesterday and will be presented in the Middle District of Florida on Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Jonathan Ghertler impersonated some of the most prominent figures in finance and law to defraud companies of over $1 million and convince federal investigators to stop their investigation into his scheme. Ghertler is a serial fraudster and has been prosecuted for similar impersonation schemes and frauds in the past, including by this Office. Today’s arrest demonstrates this Office’s commitment to stopping recidivist fraudsters like Ghertler and to seeking justice for victims of financial frauds.”
FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said: “As alleged, Ghertler impersonated high-level executives at two different financial firms and directed personnel from those firms to pay for non-existent internal investigations aimed at determining if there were links between individuals associated with the firms and Jeffrey Epstein. In addition, when he learned his fraud was being investigated, he impersonated a partner of a law firm purportedly representing one of the financial firms and attempted to convince federal agents that no crime had been committed. The action we have taken today will ensure Ghertler – in his true identity – will be forced to face the consequences of his deceit.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint:
From at least in or about December 2021, up to and including at least June 2022, GHERTLER impersonated the General Counsel of a global private equity firm (the “Private Equity Firm”). In doing so, GHERTLER fraudulently caused the Private Equity Firm’s portfolio companies to pay at least $200,000 to fund a non-existent internal investigation into alleged links between senior employees of the Private Equity Firm and Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased financier who, before he died on or about August 10, 2019, had been charged in the Southern District of New York with sex trafficking of minors and conspiring to commit sex trafficking of minors.
In addition, from at least May 2021, up to and including February 2023, GHERTLER impersonated the founder of an investment firm (the “Investment Firm”), directing the Chief Executive Officer (the “CEO”) of one of the Investment Firm’s portfolio companies (the “IF Portfolio Company”) to make at least $865,000 in payments to fund a non-existent internal investigation related to the founder’s alleged relationship with Epstein. In recent weeks, GHERTLER, posing as the founder of the Investment Firm, had discussed with the CEO the possibility of making a large investment into a restaurant chain owned by another investment firm.
On or about February 7, 2023, after learning from the CEO that federal investigators were investigating a potentially fraudulent payment made by the Investment Firm, GHERTLER, posing as a partner (the “Partner”) at a global law firm, spoke on the phone with Special Agents with the FBI. GHERTLER told the federal agents that the IF Portfolio Company had chosen not to report the fraud because it had been “made whole” by the fraudster.
On or about February 10, 2023, GHERTLER, impersonating the Partner, spoke again with federal agents. GHERTLER said, after “consult[ing]” with “associates and lower-level partners” at the Global Law Firm who “used to work” at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, “our position is that, uh, the law states that, umm, you know, if the money was paid back prior to, uh, the crime being, uh, discovered, uh, it’s not a crime.” GHERTLER added that his “client [i.e., the founder of the Investment Firm] has a lot of other issues he is dealing with right now, so this is one he really doesn’t need to deal with.”
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GHERTLER, 60, of Orlando, Florida, is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison; and one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and additionally thanked the Orange County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office and Orlando Police Department for their assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Sowlati is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth in this release constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.