Anyone who has lived in New York City for more than a few years knows that fraud schemes can be as numerous as commuters on a rush hour subway train. A recent indictment in federal district court demonstrates the never-ending variety in the fraud schemes that attract prosecutors.
The indictment was handed up by a grand jury in Brooklyn. The two defendants are accused of soliciting investors in loans that their company allegedly brokered. The loans were supposedly secured by an inventory of expensive wines that the defendants fraudulently claimed to own. The wines were allegedly represented to be in the possession of Bordeaux Cellars, a company owned by the two defendants. According to the indictment, Bordeaux Cellars allegedly possessed far fewer wines than their loan documents stated. The quality of the wines actually in the possession of Bordeaux Cellars was far lower than the stated in the defendants’ loan documents. According to prosecutors, the two suspects used multiple aliases, and they spent loan proceeds on fraudulent interest payments to investors or for their substantial personal expenses. The scheme is alleged to have run from June 2017 to February 2019.
The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York said that the two defendants offered investors “an intoxicating investment opportunity collateralized by valuable bottles of fine wine.” The offer turned out to be “too good to be true.” The two defendants have been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and a conspiracy to launder money. If convicted, each man would face up to 20 years in prison. One defendant was arrested in the United Kingdom, and the other defendant is still considered a fugitive.
Anyone who is facing similar charges may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for an evaluation of the evidence and an opinion on the likelihood of obtaining an acquittal or negotiating a favorable plea agreement.