TRENTON, N.J. – A Farmingdale, New Jersey, man today admitted perpetrating a long-running scheme to defraud investment clients out of millions of dollars, forging an attorney’s signature without authorization in connection with that scheme, and preparing false tax returns for his clients, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Scott Newsholme, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court to a three-count information charging him with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and preparing fraudulent tax returns.
In September 2017, Newsholme was charged by criminal complaint with mail fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud, and was released on bail. In October 2017, after law enforcement discovered that Newsholme continued his fraudulent scheme while out on bail, he was charged in an amended criminal complaint with mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Newsholme’s bail was revoked and he was detained pending trial.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Since 2002, Newsholme owned and operated at least three different financial advisory and tax return preparation businesses. Between 2007 and 2017, Newsholme recommended to multiple clients that they invest their money with him, which he would use on their behalf to invest in various securities and other investments, including bond instruments issued by a private New Jersey country club, a bond investment in a video-game production company, and investments in the production of a movie.
Newsholme also represented to clients that he would invest their money in more traditional securities, including mutual funds, annuities, life insurance policies, college education accounts, money market funds, and an escrow account for the purchase of a house. Newsholme directed his investment clients to write checks to him or one of his companies so that he could execute the investments on their behalf.
However, rather than invest the money as he represented, Newsome cashed or deposited the checks and used the funds for personal expenses, including multiple vehicles, bedroom furniture, debits at casinos, bank transfers to Newsholme’s personal bank accounts, and ATM withdrawals.
Newsholme concealed his scheme by diverting incoming investment funds to pay other clients who had requested to withdraw funds from their investment portfolios. Newsholme also provided his clients phony account statements, security instruments, and other documentation that falsely represented to the clients the status of their investments.
In October 2017, in furtherance of the scheme, Newsholme provided a letter to one of his investment clients from whom he had misappropriated approximately $62,000. The letter, which Newsholme represented had been prepared by an attorney, stated that the client’s funds were held safely in an escrow account established by the attorney. However, as he admitted today, Newsholme fabricated the letter and forged the attorney’s signature without the attorney’s authorization in order to conceal his misappropriation of the funds.
During the scheme, Newsholme misappropriated more than $3.1 million from his investment clients, resulting in net investment losses of more than $1.8 million.
In addition to the wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges, Newsholme also admitted preparing fraudulent tax returns on behalf of his clients. The fraudulent returns that Newsholme prepared claimed inflated deductions for unreimbursed employee business expenses, charitable donations, and medical expenses to which his clients were not entitled.
The wire fraud charge to which Newsholme pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The aggravated identity theft charge to which Newsholme pleaded guilty carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, which must run consecutive to the sentences on the other two counts. The false tax return charge carries a maximum potential sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 19, 2018.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Red Bank Resident Agency, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bradley W. Cohen, and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation. He also thanked the SEC’s New York Regional Office, under the direction of Director Mark P. Berger, and the N.J. Bureau of Securities, under the direction of Bureau Chief Christopher Gerold, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Brendan Day of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.