Saturday, December 20, 2014

Consultant Melvin Lowe, one-time FCR lobbyist, gets three years for conspiracy in unrelated case

I wrote about the conviction in September. Here's an excerpt from today's report from the Times:
A former consultant to the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee was sentenced to three years in federal prison on Friday for what prosecutors said was a conspiracy with State Senator John L. Sampson to steal $100,000 from the organization in an invoicing scheme.
The former consultant, Melvin E. Lowe, 53, of Manhattan, was convicted in September of charges including conspiracy, wire fraud and filing false tax returns.
He was hired as a consultant by the committee in 2009 after Democrats won control of the Senate, and Mr. Sampson became his party’s conference leader. Prosecutors said Mr. Lowe filed a fake invoice for a printing company in New Jersey to receive $100,000 from the committee in 2010, then took $75,000 for himself. They said Mr. Lowe used the money to pay for renovations to a house he owns in Georgia.
“Melvin Lowe’s corrupt actions were another example of a political figure in New York State putting his own personal greed ahead of the public’s trust,”Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “I hope today’s sentence will send yet another powerful signal to any public official who questions the resolve of this office to root out corruption.
And while Lowe's work for Forest City was not part of the case, it did get a mention in the Journal News:

Lowe was found guilty of wire fraud, failing to file tax returns and other charges after a one-week trial in September.
Federal prosecutors said Lowe earned $2.1 million in consulting fees between 2007 and 2012, including work for developer Forest City Ratner and their Ridge Hill development. The developer was not implicated in wrongdoing, but prosecutors said Lowe reported less than $25,000 in income from his consulting fees during those years.
Here's the press release from the U.S. Attorney:
Former Consultant to New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Sentenced in White Plains Federal Court to Three Years in Prison for Tax and Fraud Convictions
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 19, 2014
Melvin Lowe Sentenced for Conspiring with New York State Senator John Sampson To Defraud the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MELVIN LOWE, a former consultant to the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee ("DSCC"), was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for conspiring with New York State Senator John Sampson to defraud the DSCC of $100,000, and for personal income tax offenses. LOWE was convicted by a jury in September 2014. United States District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti imposed today’s sentence.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Melvin Lowe’s corrupt actions were another example of a political figure in New York State putting his own personal greed ahead of the public’s trust. I hope that today’s sentence will send yet another powerful signal to any public official who questions the resolve of this office to root out public corruption.”
According to the Complaint, the Indictment filed in federal court and the evidence presented at trial:
LOWE was retained as a consultant by the DSCC after New York State Senator John Sampson was appointed as the Senate's Democratic Conference Leader following the June 2009 "coup" that temporarily shifted the balance of power in the New York Senate from the Democrats to the Republicans. In early June 2010, Sampson asked LOWE to arrange for a covert payment of $20,000 to Michael Nieves, a Queens-based political operative who had previously worked for former New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate and who had helped engineer the resolution of the Senate coup that had brought Sampson to power. LOWE then arranged for a New Jersey-based political consultant to submit a false invoice to the DSCC for $100,000 in printing services. Sampson approved payment of the invoice and the DSCC sent $100,000 to the New Jersey-based consultant. LOWE instructed the consultant to send $20,000 of the proceeds to Nieves, $75,000 of the proceeds to LOWE's consulting company, and to keep $5,000 for himself. The jury heard evidence that LOWE and Senator Sampson had a close relationship of trust that included LOWE giving Sampson an envelope of cash.
LOWE received more than $2.1 million in consulting income from 2007 to 2012. He reported less than $25,000 in income in each of his federal income tax returns for 2007 through 2009, which he did not file until late 2010. LOWE never filed tax returns for 2010 through 2012. He never made any payments toward his taxes for the years 2000 through 2012.
LOWE also caused a bank to make a false statement to his mortgage lender regarding the balance in his checking account. When the mortgage lender sent LOWE’s bank a Verification of Deposit form to verify LOWE's claim that he had $65,000 in his checking account, LOWE caused the assistant manager to claim that LOWE's account had a balance of more than $80,000. At that time, the balance in LOWE's checking account was $2,156.
* * *
In addition to the prison sentence, LOWE, 53, of Manhattan, was sentenced to three years’ supervised release.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the investigators from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Perry A. Carbone and James McMahon are in charge of the prosecution.

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