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Tonawanda man pleads guilty to wire fraud conspiracy

STAFF REPORTS


BUFFALO -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Michael Dudley, 31, of Tonawanda, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell, who is handling the case, stated that between February 2013 and April 2015, Dudley worked for and with Alan Ceccarelli, the owner and manager of a debt collection business. During that time, the defendant engaged in a scheme to defraud debtors and purported debtors by false and fraudulent pretenses. Dudley tricked and coerced victims throughout the United States into paying supposed debts through a variety of false statements and threats. Because Ceccarelli did not actually own the debts on which he, Dudley, and other employees collected, payments made by victims went directly to Ceccarelli, rather than to satisfy any of the victims’ outstanding debts.

Dudley received approximately $72,250 of the fraud proceeds collected from victims as commission.

In addition, Dudley and Ceccarelli placed telephone calls to debtors involved in bankruptcy proceedings, in which they posed as attorneys or representatives of bankruptcy courts, and induced debtors to make payments to Ceccarelli, by falsely stating that such payments were necessary for the debtors to finalize their bankruptcy proceedings.

Alan Ceccarelli was previously convicted and sentenced to serve 72 months in prison.

The plea is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 23, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. before Judge Wolford.

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