Michael Conway, a Verona resident who is the president of a Fairfield business, was arrested today on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly forging office equipment lease agreements to defraud an individual investor and a financial services company of approximately $3.5 million. According to a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, one of the leases carried a forged signature of Jeffrey Wilpon, the chief operating officer of the New York Mets.
“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,” said Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement.
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 the fraudulent agreements to get financing from private investors. Conway then persuaded an individual investor to become partners with him in the leasing business, Choice Office Solutions. 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 buy the office equipment to be leased. 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.
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 Wilpon to get financing from De Lage Landen Financial Solutions Partner of Wayne, Pa. Based on these fraudulent documents, DLLFSP wired approximately $313,000 to Conway’s bank account.
The defendant’s initial appearance was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak at the United States Courthouse in Brooklyn.
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.