Hamburg Man Extradited From Vietnam On Fraud Charges
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Michael Wilson, 29, formerly of Hamburg, NY, was successfully returned from Vietnam and arraigned this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy.
In December 2010, the defendant was named in a 47-count indictment charging wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy. The maximum penalty for each fraud count is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each money laundering charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Allen Jr., who is handling the criminal case, and Richard D. Kaufman, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Asset Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit, stated that the indictment accuses Wilson of attempting to defraud investors out of more than $8,000,000 between June 2008 and July 2009, and another $71,875 in July 2010. According to the indictment, the defendant created several fraudulent investment companies known collectively as “New Frontier,” including such names as “Phantom Holdings” and others, all purportedly located at 6553 Boston State Road in Hamburg, adjacent to his residence. Wilson thereafter induced individuals and companies to invest in financial instruments with complex sounding names, such as “leveraging agreements,” that promised high-yield earnings and returns.
The indictment also alleges that rather than investing clients’ money, the defendant spent it on a variety of personal items, including $2,500,000 for a down payment for Boston State Road properties, automobiles - including a Hummer, a Corvette, two Land Rovers, and a Mercedes ML 500 - artwork, and other items. In addition, in January 2009, Wilson paid $1,800 to hire an actor from a talent agency to portray a person using the name of his alias “George Possiodis,” which name and persona the defendant used during his scheme. The Government is seeking forfeiture of more than $3,000,000 that Wilson allegedly stole from investors and spent.
The indictment also alleges that in July 2010, Michael Wilson and his brother, William Wilson, conspired to receive two wire transfers totaling $71,875, which a client believed would be invested by “Zodiak Capital,” another one of Michael Wilson’s companies. $70,325 of the $71,875 never reached Michael or William Wilson because the government successfully froze and seized the money before it could be withdrawn from two accounts it had been wired into.
Wilson, a dual citizen of Canada, traveled to the Toronto area after learning he was under investigation. After being arrested in Canada in July 2013, Wilson was released on conditions and challenged extradition to the United States in Canadian Courts. Before his final appearance in Canadian Court, in February 2016, Wilson flew to Vietnam with his wife, mother, and three dogs. Wilson was arrested in Vietnam in June 2016, and has been detained in Vietnamese jail pending his removal to the United States.
“This case shows that we will literally travel across the globe in our pursuit of justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “I commend our law enforcement partners both at home and abroad for their cooperation and diligence in successfully apprehending an individual who went to tremendous lengths to avoid answering the charges filed against him.”
The defendant was arraigned this afternoon before Judge McCarthy. Wilson is being held until a detention hearing scheduled for December 15, 2016, at 2:00 p.m.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Adam S. Cohen, Special Agent-in-Charge, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office, Kathy A. Enstrom, Toronto Police Service, Vietnam Ministry of Public Security, and other law enforcement partners, including LEGAT, Seoul, Korea, and the U.S. State Department.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.