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Press Release

Recidivist Defendant Sentenced To Six Years In Prison For Orchestrating Million-Dollar Fraud Scheme Targeting Senior Executives Of Investment Firms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Jonathan Ghertler Also Impersonated the Partner of a Global Law Firm on Telephone Calls with Federal Agents Investigating His Scheme

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JONATHAN GHERTLER was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos to six years in prison in connection with his scheme to impersonate senior leaders of two Manhattan-based investment firms, resulting in over $1 million in losses to their portfolio companies, and to impersonating a partner of a global law firm on telephone calls with federal law enforcement agents who were investigating the scheme.  GHERTLER previously pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Jonathan Ghertler orchestrated a sophisticated impersonation scheme by posing as prominent financiers and lawyers.  He duped companies out of over $1 million.  He also obstructed justice by brazenly impersonating a partner of a global law firm and urging federal agents to drop their investigation.  But he did not get away with it.  As today’s sentence demonstrates, serial fraudsters like Ghertler will be caught and held to account for their crimes.”

According to the Indictment and other filings and statements made in court:

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.  Shortly before the fraud unraveled, 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation (“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 U.S. 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.”

This case resulted in GHERTLER’s 16th conviction — his prior convictions include fraud, theft, larceny, burglary, and forgery.  In 2001, he was convicted of wire fraud in the Southern District of New York, and, in 2007, he was convicted of wire fraud in the Middle District of Florida.  As here, in both the prior federal cases, GHERTLER was charged with impersonating prominent lawyers and business leaders and persuading companies to fraudulently transfer large sums of money to accounts under his control.

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In addition to his prison term, GHERTLER, 61, of Orlando, Florida, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,065,000 and forfeit the same amount.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Sowlati is in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated September 27, 2023

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-337