Michael Conway, a Verona resident who is the president of Choice Office Solutions LLC in Fairfield, pleaded guilty on Thursday, February 18, to wire fraud in connection with the forging of many lease agreements. The fraud included a forged authorization letter purportedly signed by the New York Mets’ chief operating officer, Jeffrey Wilpon. Conway was arrested in the matter last September.
The guilty plea was announced by Robert L. Capers, 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 a result of the plea agreement, Conway agreed that he is liable to pay $3,555,493.40 in restitution to the individual investor and $1,203,516 to De Lage Landen Financial Solutions Partner (DLLFSP). When sentenced, Conway faces up to 20 years in prison.
“Through a web of lies, deceit and forgeries, Michael Conway induced an individual investor and a lending firm to invest millions of dollars with his company,” Capers said in a prepared statement. “Conway presented his unsuspecting victims with forged lease agreements and represented to them that he had entered into lucrative contracts to lease office equipment with more than 50 companies, including law firms, universities, and a major league baseball franchise, when in reality, a number of these agreements were worthless.”
“Conway swindled investors to the tune of more than $3.5 million through a series of fraudulent business agreements and lies,” Rodriguez said in the same announcement yesterday. “Today’s plea and agreement to pay restitution should serve as a warning to others who seek to profit through deception.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Conway forged lease agreements with various companies in the business of leasing office equipment from March 2014 to August 2015, and then used these fraudulent agreements to get financing from private investors. He also convinced an individual investor to become partners with him in his leasing business. The government said that Conway would purportedly secure a lease from a company, and present the signed lease and invoices to the individual investor, who would provide funds to purchase 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 $3.5 million to purchase office equipment. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, most of the leasing agreements were fraudulent, and Conway pocketed most of the individual investor’s money.
In the transaction related to the New York Mets, Conway presented a fraudulent lease with the baseball team and the individual investor wired about $500,000 to Conway’s bank account. Conway then used the same fraudulent lease, and an authorization letter with Wilpon’s forged signature to get financing from DLLFSP. Based on these fraudulent documents, DLLFSP wired approximately $313,000 to Conway.
The government did not indicate when Conway’s sentencing would be.