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A.G. Schneiderman Announces State Prison Sentence For Ringleader Of Multi-County Check Fraud Scheme

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2018

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman 

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES STATE PRISON SENTENCE FOR RINGLEADER OF MULTI-COUNTY CHECK FRAUD SCHEME

Kevin Singleton-Lee Will Serve 6 to 18 Years in State Prison for Issuing Bogus Checks as Part of a Scheme to Defraud Account Holders and Regional Credit Unions; Defendants Used Social Media to Target Vulnerable New Yorkers Like College Students and Young Single Parents

Singleton-Lee Ordered to Pay Over $125,000 to Victims

UTICA – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that Kevin Singleton-Lee will serve 6 to 18 years in state prison on four felony convictions in Onondaga and Oneida Counties for his role in a multi-county check kiting scheme. Today, in Oneida County Court, the Honorable Robert L. Bauer sentenced Singleton-Lee to 1 1/3 to 4 years, which will run consecutive to his previous sentence of 4 2/3 to 14 years in Onondaga County. Additionally, Singleton-Lee was ordered to pay over $125,000 to victims.

These convictions are the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s office and the New York State Police. The investigation uncovered that Singleton-Lee and his co-conspirator Jerome Simpson, with the aid of Daniel Green, issued over $175,000 in fraudulent checks. To further their scheme, the defendants used social media to recruit financially vulnerable individuals to cash fake checks using their personal accounts, before emptying these accounts of all their assets. Between December 2015 and August 2017, the defendants targeted over a dozen different branches of local credit unions and banks throughout Central New York and the Capital Region, and recruited over 50 account holders to assist in their check-kiting scheme. During the almost two-year period, the defendants presented and cashed over 100 fraudulent checks, ranging in amounts from several hundred to several thousand dollars. 

“Preying on financially vulnerable New Yorkers is unconscionable,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will remain vigilant in prosecuting those who exploit others for their personal benefit  and continue to protect consumers from economically-devastating schemes like these.”

State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “This individual used a devious scheme to victimize vulnerable people for his own gain. I commend our members and the Attorney General’s office for their work on this case. It’s because of our strong partnership that we were able to expose this fraud and hold this individual accountable for his crimes.”

To further their scheme, Singleton-Lee and Simpson first arranged for the creation of bank accounts corresponding with often-fictitious businesses, including “Jones Maintenance” and “Watkins Homecare.” Next, they issued fraudulent checks written in the name of those phony businesses. Then, Singleton-Lee, Simpson, and Green—relying heavily on Facebook and other social media outlets—targeted numerous college students, young single parents, and other vulnerable, unsuspecting young adults, and recruited them to cash forged checks in the name of those businesses. The fraudsters promised the account owners a portion of the check proceeds as a fee for either cashing the forged checks or depositing them into their personal accounts.

However, after the checks were deposited and funds became available, Singleton-Lee, Simpson, and Green drained the accounts of the available balances before the checks were returned and the financial institutions discovered them to be worthless. In some instances, the defendants even assumed the identities of the account holders without their knowledge and consent, accessed their accounts using personal information the defendants required for asserted security purposes, and withdrew funds through ATM transactions.

Ringleader Singleton-Lee was charged separately in Onondaga and Oneida Counties. On November 4, 2016, Singleton-Lee pleaded guilty before the Honorable Anthony F. Aloi in Onondaga County to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and one count of Identity Theft in the First Degree, all Class D felonies. On November 17, 2017, Singleton-Lee was sentenced by the Honorable Matthew J. Doran to 4 2/3 to 14 years in state prison, which consisted of consecutive terms of 2 1/3 to 7 years for his convictions for Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and a concurrent term of 1 to 3 years for his conviction for Identity Theft in the First Degree. On December 5, 2017, Singleton-Lee pleaded guilty in Oneida County Court before the Honorable Robert L. Bauer to one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a Class E felony. Today, Singleton-Lee was sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison to run consecutive to his Onondaga County sentence, for a combined sentence of 6 to 18 years in state prison. As part of his sentences, Singleton-Lee entered into confessions of judgment in favor of the victims, totaling over $125,000. 

Co-defendant Simpson was previously convicted of one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree in Schenectady County Court. On November 20, 2017, Simpson was sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison by the Honorable Louise K. Sira and was ordered to repay $47,880.64 as imposed by confessions of judgment. 

Co-defendant Green was previously convicted of one count of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a Class E felony, in Onondaga County Court before the Honorable Anthony F. Aloi. On October 3, 2017, Green was sentenced by the Honorable Matthew J. Doran to time served and four years’ probation, as well as ordered to repay $9,900 as imposed by confessions of judgment. 

The Attorney General’s office thanks the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit and Financial Crimes Unit, the Utica Police Department, the Saratoga County Sheriff’s office, and the Schenectady Police Department for their invaluable assistance on this case.

The criminal case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General John R. Healy and Andrew J. Tarkowski of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett.

The Attorney General’s investigation was conducted by Investigator Joel Cordone under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Richard Doyle and Deputy Chief Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. Forensic accounting was performed by former Associate Auditor Matthew Croghan under the supervision of Deputy Chief Auditor Sandy Bizzarro. The Forensic Audit Section is led by Chief Auditor Edward J. Keegan.