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Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

In SDNY US Attorney Gets A Guilty Plea to Belize Airport Loan Fraud But Not As Much As Asked For

By Matthew Russell Lee, Periscope video

FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, February 13 – A fraud involving a airport in Belize and solicitation of loans on top of other loans already in default, for luxury cars and a beach club membership, gave rise to a guilty plea on February 13 before U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Failla engaged the defendant Brent Borland in a colloquy about his plea, but Borland declined to go as far as the prosecution wanted. He admitted he had omitted material information, but declined to speak to whether the real property ostensibly securing the loans was encumbered by other liens or, as the prosecution put it, in at least one case did not exist at all. How far does one have to go, in pleading guilty? The case is U.S. v. Borland, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-cr-00487.

Still unresolved is the matter of forfeiture. Sentencing was set for June 21 and Judge Failla made a point to warn Borland against bail jumping. When she asked if he had consumer any alcohol in the last 48 hours - longer than other judges have asked - and he said two glasses of wine with dinner, she asked if he still felt the effects. Then he rushed out of the courtroom with a rolling bag - and a more mundane trademark and copyright case began. There were only two jouranalists in the courtroom for this, seemingly with Reuters absent and picking up from press release - and then there was one.

Back on February 11 a fraud involving forged contracts and a fiber optic cable network in Alaska resulted in guilty pleas to 8 counts of identity theft and one count of wire fraud before Judge Edgard Ramos of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Ramos asked Elizabeth Ann Pierce, who pled guilty eight days before her trial was to have begun, if she understood and if she had, for example, consumed any drugs or alcohol in the last 24 hours. "One Tylenol, Your Honor," she replied. What the prosecution called forgery she called using signatures without authorization - but she admitted it. In the courtroom were Inner City Press and two other reporters; the proceeding took less than half an hour. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement:  “As she admitted today, Elizabeth Ann Pierce engaged in a brazen, multi-year scheme to obtain over $250 million from investors by misrepresenting that she had guaranteed revenue contracts with multiple telecommunications services companies.  But in fact, the defendant faked those contracts, forged other people’s signatures on them, and then lied to cover up her fraud.  She abused her executive position and is now being held accountable for her crimes.” Her sentencing is set for May 16 at 11 am. Inner City Press last week covered Ramos imposing sentence for bribery in the NYPD's gun license program. And there is another sentencing in the Thurgood Marshall courthouse later on February 11. The previous Friday on February 8, before Norman Seabrook, former head of the NYC Corrections Officers union, was sentenced on February 8 by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to 58 months in prison, a victim's statement to the court cited what it called Seabrook's racist rant on YouTube.

   Afterward on Worth Street Inner City Press asked Seabrook about the YouTube video - actually, an audio file with an array of still photographs.  Seabrook told Inner City Press they doctored it to make him look bad. His (actual) answer on Periscope here - and here now audio file on YouTube, here.

  In the SDNY courtroom it was cognitive dissonance: Norman Seabrook who rose from poverty to head of a union with 10,000 members, who endorsed Michael Bloomberg; Norman Seabrook who asked for tens of thousands of dollars to steer union money into a Cayman Islands hedge fund which failed.

  Prosecutor Martin Bell referred to a Ferragamo bag visible in Seabrook's house for months. When Seabrook spoke he said it was a gift with cigars, taking a cigar out of his suit jacket.

Seabrook's lawyer Paul Shechtman cited Seabrook's work on the so-called feces bill to make throwing excrement at a corrections officer a felony. On the hand Seabrook was accused of threatening his board members with returning to work in a prison as punishment, and of going after anyone who dared run against or otherwise oppose him. Seabrook felt that it was his time to get paid, that he was bigger than the cause he began fighting for, Bell said.

Shechtman also spoke after the sentencing. Inner City Press asked him about Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein's seeming reversal of an initial position that it would be hard to leave Seabrook out on bail pending appeal. Shechtman replied affably that he had to win something, after the 58 month sentence.  Video here.

  An issue on a appeal will be whether Seabrook's second jury should have heard about the $19 million loss.

 Inner City Press asked Shechtman about the restitution, how much would be paid by hedge funders Murray Huberfeld,  Jona Rechnitz and perhaps (Judge Hellerstein indicated) Jeremy Reichberg. Shechtman told Inner City Press, If Norman wins $19 million in the lottery, we'll have about that. For now, $2500 is due in 60 days, through the SDNY Clerk, for the union. We'll have more on this.

   Exiting the courthouse after Seabrook, with a bag of Utz potato chips and a copy of the Daily News was New York Knicks icon Charles Oakley. He said that there are others who need to be locked up as well, and that the Knicks need better players. There was no rebuttal. Periscope video here.

Upcoming in the SDNY is a recently-filed complaint by the Bangladesh Central Bank for the $81 million hacking of its funds, which were then wired through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a case that Inner City Press will cover. Times change. Watch this site.


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