'Advertise on All WNY'

Most Recent News

Ringleader of fraud scheme going to prison

STAFF REPORTS


BUFFALO -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Sergiy Bezrukov, a/k/a Thomas Paris, a/k/a Chris Riley, a/k/a John Butler, 35, of Salamanca, NY, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, was sentenced to serve 66 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $1,230,840.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Wei Xiang, who handled the prosecution of the case, and Mary Clare Kane, who is handling the forfeiture and restitution, stated that Bezrukov, often using the alias “Thomas Paris” of “Corporate Restructure, Inc.,” solicited small businesses across the United States that were operating with merchant cash advances to “restructure” their “debt” with him. The defendant fraudulently induced the businesses to stop paying their original obligations, and to pay him instead. In total, Bezrukov defrauded approximately 200 victims out of more than $1,200,000.

The financial and emotional havoc that the defendant wreaked on the victims extended beyond losing money. Victims continue suffering long-lasting effects from bankruptcies, judgments, and damage to their credit history. In some of the family-owned and operated small businesses, Bezrukov shattered the victims’ marriages. As one victim wrote to Judge Vilardo, “It was so tempting to just end my life, but I couldn’t do it.”

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers learned that the defendant was planning to move his business out of Salamanca. As a result, federal search warrants were executed on Bezrukov’s office, home, vehicle and person. Officers found and seized approximately $393,000 in cash hidden in computer hard drives. Later in the investigation, a check for $729,000 dollars was seized. In addition, other checks, gift cards, and quantities of cash from the defendant’s operation were also seized. In total, more than $1,400,000 was seized from Bezrukov.

Co-defendants Mark Farnham, Dustin Walker, and Vanessa Cardona were previously convicted and sentenced.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge; and Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly.

No comments