President of New Jersey-Based Textile Company Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Defrauding Investors of $4 Million
NEWARK, NJ—A Mahwah, New Jersey, woman was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for pretending to be an employee of the United States in order to defraud investors out of $4 million, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Sara Rong Liu, 54, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging her with one count of falsely assuming or pretending to be an employee of the United States and obtaining money as a result of her impersonation. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Liu was the president of Westone Inc., a company purportedly involved in the wholesale distribution of textiles as well as interior design. Liu falsely represented to prospective victim investors, among other things, that Westone had been awarded a lucrative $156.6 million contract by the New York City Department of Design and Construction Fund (NYC DDC).
The NYC DDC never awarded the defendant or her company any such contract.
Liu falsely represented to the victim investors that there was a problem with the fictitious contract that required Westone to pay certain fees before the NYC DDC would release contract payments to the defendant and her company.
To support her false claims, Liu created, or caused to be created, a number of fictitious documents, including documents purportedly from, among others: the NYC DDC, which stated she had been awarded the contract to provide ADesign, Construction, and Construction Support Services for the Design, Manufacture, and Supply of Good Quality Home & Office Interior Textile Products and Finishing” in and around the New York metropolitan area; the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; the U.S. Department of Treasury; the FBI; and the U.S. Attorney=s Office for the Southern District of New York, among others. Liu e-mailed a number of these documents to the victim investors from whom she solicited funds. She characterized the funds as short-term loans, which would be repaid immediately upon the release of the first contract payment of $52.2 million from the NYC DDC.
In all, the defendant obtained more than approximately $4 million in illegitimate proceeds from victim investors.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton sentenced Liu to serve one year of supervised release and pay $4,220,185 in restitution.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark, and the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Rodney Davis, Washington Field Division, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Chief Gurbir Grewal and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lakshmi Srinivasan Herman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.