Articles

Father-Son Car Dealers Charged with Tax, Bank Fraud

The father-and-son owners of an Orange County car dealership have been charged with tax fraud and bank fraud. Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

The father-and-son operators of an Orange County used-car dealership have been charged with understating their business’s income on tax returns and overstating it on loan applications, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Mehdi Moslem and Saaed Moslem, owners of the Exclusive Motor Sports car dealership in Central Valley, are accused of conspiring with a tax preparer and others from 2009 to 2016 to conceal millions of dollars in profits from the IRS.

Prosecutors say that in 2009, Saaed Moslem hired a tax preparer in Rockland County who agreed to lower the yearend inventory value for Exclusive, which increased Exclusive’s cost of goods sold and decreased the net income reported on Saaed Moslem’s personal tax return. From 2010 to 2013 and again in 2015, the defendants directed the tax preparer to use false information in preparing partnership tax returns for Exclusive, according to the indictment. The returns significantly understated gross receipts and underreported inventory, thereby inflating the cost of goods sold. This reduced the business income attributable to the men, resulting in the underpayment of personal income taxes.

The tax preparer is not identified in the indictment, and is referred to as CC-1, short for co-conspirator 1.

Prosecutors say Saaed Moslem used his fraudulent tax returns to conceal his assets from creditors when he filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Both men are from Central Valley.

Bank fraud

Prosecutors say that, from 2011 to 2017, the father and son also conspired to defraud several financial institutions by submitting inflated net worth statements and fabricated tax returns in support of loan applications. They inflated the market value of their real estate holdings and omitted the tax liabilities resulting from the understatement of their income on their personal tax returns, according to the indictment. The loans included a $1.2 million mortgage on the car dealership property on which the men later defaulted.

Mehdi Moslem, 70, and Saaed Moslem, 35, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of bank fraud conspiracy. Saaed Moslem is also charged with two counts of making false statements to a lender, and one count of concealing assets and making false declarations in a bankruptcy case.  

Read the indictment here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/press-release/file/1190301/download

Westchester Restaurateur Charged with Cooking the Books

The owner of a French restaurant in Westchester County faces multiple fraud charges. Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

The owner of an upscale French restaurant in Westchester County has been charged with multiple counts of fraud, accused of falsifying bank records and running up an $80,000 tab on a customer’s credit card.

Barbara “Bobbie” Meyzen, owner of La Cremaillere Restaurant in Banksville, faces a litany of fraud charges, the culmination of a five-year spree of brazen acts of theft and fraud detailed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Meyzen has owned the restaurant since 1993. From August 2015 to July 2016, Meyzen submitted applications for credit on behalf of the restaurant to at least nine lenders and factors. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Meyzen provided the potential lenders with business bank statements that she had altered, changing negative balances to positive balances, removing references to bounced checks and reducing service fees. When one lender discovered that the bank statements had been altered, authorities say Meyzen created an email account in the name of a bank officer and sent an email to the lender stating that the bank statements were genuine.

Authorities say Meyzen falsely represented to the same lender that the second mortgage on the restaurant had been paid off. She is accused of forging a satisfaction of mortgage document, filing it with the Westchester County Clerk’s Office and sending a copy to the lender. Meyzen later denied filing the false document, telling FBI agents that she believed a loan broker with whom she had previously worked had done it.

Meyzen is also accused of charging more than $80,000 in food and restaurant supplies to the American Express card of one of the restaurant’s customers. When the customer discovered the charges, authorities say Meyzen claimed the charges were a mistake and promised to resolve them. She later gave the customer two checks totaling $32,000. The checks bounced.  She told the FBI that she knew nothing about the unauthorized charges and denied giving the customer any checks, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In September 2018, Meyzen Family Realty Associates, LLC, the company that owns the property where La Crémaillère operates, filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains. In April 2019, La Crémaillère Restaurant Corp., which operates the restaurant, followed suit. Meyzen is a part owner in both businesses. Two days after the second filing, Meyzen opened a bank account in her name and diverted more than $40,000 of the restaurant’s credit card receipts to that account, authorities said. The funds were used to make payments to a food distributor and to an in-home nursing service.

That bank account was closed on May 1. Six days later, Meyzen opened an account at another bank under Honey Bee Farm, LLC, and diverted La Crémaillère’s credit card receipts, as well as $20,000 in advances on the eatery’s future credit card revenue, to that account, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Authorities say Meyzen used some of that money to make a payment on Meyzen Family Realty’s mortgage and to pay food distributors, wine wholesalers, a commercial trash service, a tableware and china company, and a restaurant employee.

Meyzen, 57, of Redding, Connecticut, has been charged with aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, mail fraud, credit card fraud, two counts of making false statements and one count of concealing a debtor’s property.

Read the complaint here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/press-release/file/1186206/download

CEO from Westchester County convicted in hedge-fund scheme

The co-founder of a Manhattan investment firm and a former trader at the firm were convicted this week of inflating the value of the firm’s investments. Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

The co-founder and CEO of a Manhattan investment firm and a former trader at the firm were convicted Thursday of securities fraud.

Anilesh Ahuja, 51, the co-founder, CEO and chief investment officer of Premium Point Investments LP, which managed a portfolio of hedge funds, and Jeremy Shor, 44, a former trader at PPI, were convicted of scheming to artificially inflate the value of the firm’s holdings by more than $100 million in order to attract new investors and retain existing ones.

Ahuja, of New Rochelle, NY, and Shor, of New York City, were found guilty of all four counts against them: conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison, and securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud, each carrying a maximum potential sentence of 20 years. The men will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla at a future date.

Before founding PPI a decade ago, Ahuja was the head of the residential mortgage-backed securities group at a global investment bank. At its peak, PPI managed more than $5 billion in assets.

According to prosecutors, from approximately 2014 to 2016, Ahuja and Shor participated in a conspiracy to defraud PPI’s investors and potential investors by mismarking the value of certain securities held by its funds each month, thereby inflating the net asset value of those funds as reported to existing and potential investors.

Two former PPI employees, Amin Majidi of Armonk and Ashish Dole of White Plains, had already pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme, as had Frank Dinucci Jr., a former salesman at a broker-dealer.

“Investors in our markets must be able to count on the truth and accuracy of the information they receive from those they entrust with their money,” said Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.

To read the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s press release on the conviction: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/hedge-fund-founder-ceo-and-cio-anilesh-ahuja-and-former-trader-jeremy-shor-convicted

To read the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s press release on the indictment of Ahuja, Majidi and Shor: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/hedge-fund-founder-portfolio-manager-and-trader-charged-manhattan-federal-court

To read the indictment: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/press-release/file/1061281/download