Former Mayor of Manalapan Found Guilty on All Counts of Mortgage Fraud, Identity Theft, and Obstruction of Justice
TRENTON, NJ—The former mayor of Manalapan, New Jersey, was convicted at trial today on charges related to his acquisition of farmland in Monmouth County, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Andrew Lucas, 37, was found guilty today on all 11 counts of an indictment charging him with wire fraud, an illegal monetary transaction, loan application fraud, false statements to the IRS, aggravated identity theft, obstruction of a grand jury investigation and falsification of records in a federal investigation. The jury deliberated three hours before returning its verdict following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in Trenton federal court. According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:
On Dec.15, 2009, Lucas submitted a loan application to a New Jersey bank requesting $525,000 to finance his purchase of the Burke Farm property in Manalapan. Lucas provided the bank with falsified versions of his 2007 and 2008 tax returns, as well as a falsified version of a 2007 tax return for a relative whose name was also on the loan application. Lucas also falsely reported that he had a total of $210,000 in cash.
Lucas owned and operated Lucas Capital Advisors LLC (Lucas Capital), through which he served as an investment advisor and manager to multiple individuals. To obtain the $250,000 down payment for the property, Lucas approached Bobby Janowski, who was a client of Lucas Capital, to pitch an investment in an entity called VLM Investments LLC (VLM). On Feb. 15, 2010, Lucas presented a written note to Janowski, which stated that the $250,000 investment was to be secured by “…interest in the equipment, fixtures, inventory and accounts receivable” of VLM. However, Lucas failed to inform Janowski that at the time the note was signed, VLM did not exist. Lucas also failed to disclose to Janowski that Lucas intended to make personal use of the funds. It was not until three days later, on Feb. 18, 2010, that Lucas created VLM by registering it with the State of New Jersey and the IRS, using the name and Social Security number of Lucas’ out-of-state relative, Thomas Littlefield, without his knowledge or permission.
On Feb. 22, 2010, Lucas authorized the wiring of $250,000 from Janowski’s Lucas Capital investment account to a VLM bank account that had Lucas as the only authorized signer. On March 1, 2010, Lucas withdrew this money in the form of a bank check, which he provided the next day to the closing attorney for the purchase of the Burke Farm property.
Lucas also filed tax returns for VLM for tax years 2011 and 2012, both times listing Littlefield’s name and Social Security number without Littlefield’s knowledge or permission.
Federal investigators served Lucas with subpoenas on Feb. 7, 2013, for the records of VLM and Lucas Capital Advisors. In response, Lucas provided federal authorities with a fabricated and back-dated letter purporting to be from Littlefield concerning a transaction for the purchase of the Burke Farm property. The counts of wire fraud and falsification of records in a federal investigation are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Loan application fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The counts of conduction an illegal monetary transaction and obstruction of a grand jury investigation are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years. Each of the charges of false statements to the IRS is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory prison term of two years, to be run consecutive to any other sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI Red Bank Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, for the investigation leading to today’s arrest.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Skahill in Camden and Rahul Agarwal in Newark, both of the U.S. Attorney’s Special Prosecutions Division.