President of Office Equipment Leasing Company Arrested for Engaging in Multi-Million-Dollar Fraud Scheme
Michael Conway, the President of Choice Office Solutions LLC (Choice Office), was arrested earlier today on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme where he forged lease agreements to defraud an individual investor and De Lage Landen Financial Solutions Partner (DLLFSP) of approximately $3.5 million. Earlier today, FBI agents also executed a search of Choice Office’s offices in Fairfield, New Jersey. The defendant’s initial appearance is scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.
The charges and arrest were announced by Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI). “As charged in the criminal complaint, Conway claimed to have lucrative contracts to lease office equipment with more than 50 companies, including law firms, universities, and a major league baseball franchise, and relied on these lease contracts to obtain financing. In reality, the only one making money on these phony lease agreements was the defendant himself,” stated Acting United States Attorney Currie.
“Crime does not need to be violent to have a devastating impact on society. White collar crimes, like the ones alleged herein, can reach more victims and have a disparate impact on the most vulnerable persons and businesses. Fraud disguises itself as legitimate and true, while abusing trust and eroding faith in fair and honest dealings. The FBI will continue to investigate lack of integrity leading to criminal activities in order to protect the community from such harm,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Rodriguez.
According to the complaint unsealed this morning in Brooklyn federal court, from approximately March 2014 to August 2015, Conway forged lease agreements with various companies in the business of leasing office equipment, and then used these fraudulent agreements to obtain financing from private investors. As part of the scheme, Conway induced an individual investor to become partners with him in the leasing business. Conway would then purportedly secure a lease from a company, present the signed lease and invoices to the individual investor, who would provide funds to purchase the office equipment to be leased. In this manner, Conway presented the individual investor with leases from approximately 58 companies, including law firms, universities, hospitals, and hotels, and the individual investor paid Conway approximately $3.1 million to purchase office equipment. In reality, most of the leasing agreements that Conway provided to the individual investor were fraudulent, and Conway pocketed most of the individual investor’s money.
One of the fraudulent leasing agreements was purportedly with the New York Mets. Relying on it, the individual investor wire transferred approximately $500,000 to Conway’s bank account ostensibly to purchase office equipment. Conway then used the same forged lease agreement, and a forged authorization letter from the New York Mets purportedly signed by Jeffrey Wilpon, the team’s Chief Operating Officer, to obtain financing from DLLFSP. Based on these fraudulent documents, DLLFSP wire transferred a total of approximately $313,000 to Conway’s bank account.
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Conway faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years’ imprisonment and a maximum sentence of 22 years.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Winston Paes and Celia Cohen are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges were brought in connection with the President’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 is 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. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.
Verona, New Jersey