Hamburg Man Who Fled Country Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Michael Wilson, 30, formerly of Hamburg, NY, pleaded guilty to wire fraud before Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 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 Wilson defrauded investors out of more than $10,000,000 between June 2008 and July 2010. 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.
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.
As part of his plea agreement, Wilson will forfeit $5,617,750.00 in proceeds from his fraudulent activities along with any interest he has in several bank accounts in Canada, Singapore, New Zealand and the Grenadines. The defendant will also forfeit his interest in two condominiums in downtown Toronto as well as two villas he had built in Vietnam. Early on in the investigation, the Government seized and forfeited Wilson’s luxury automobiles and expensive artwork. This year, four accounts, which contained approximately $750,000, at the Euro Pacific Bank were forfeited by Judge Skretny. Finally, Wilson will transfer ownership to the Government of several computers and smart phones he used in his fraudulent investment schemes.
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 chartered a private jet and flew to Vietnam with his wife, mother, and three dogs. Wilson was arrested in Vietnam in June 2016, and returned to the United States in December 2016.
“This defendant went to great lengths not only to perpetrate his fraud but to avoid responsibility for his crime. However, this case demonstrates how this Office, together with our law enforcement partners, remains committed to going the distance in order to achieve justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Though he defrauded investor victims out of millions of dollars, at this point, no amount of money will enable defendant to avoid the finish line which he set for himself through his actions. That finish will be a sentencing proceeding in federal district court."
The plea 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 Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office, James D. Robnett, Toronto Police Service, Vietnam Ministry of Public Security, and other law enforcement partners, including LEGAT, Seoul, Korea, and the U.S. State Department.
Sentencing is scheduled for October 25, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. before Judge Skretny.