Michael Conway, president of US leasing business Choice Office Solutions, has pleaded guilty to forging numerous lease agreements and defrauding an individual investor and De Lage Landen Financial Solutions Partner (DLLFSP) of more than $4.5m (€4.09m).

As part of Conway’s plea agreement with the US government, he agreed he was liable to pay damages of $3,555,493.40 to the individual investor and $1,203,516 to DLLFSP. When sentenced, Conway faces up to 20 years in prison.

The guilty plea was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, assistant director-in-charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).

"Through a web of lies, deceit and forgeries, Michael Conway induced an individual investor and a lending firm to invest millions of dollars with his company. Conway presented his unsuspecting victims with forged lease agreements and represented to them that he had entered into lucrative contracts to lease office equipment with more than 50 companies, including law firms, universities, and a major league baseball franchise, when in reality, a number of these agreements were worthless," stated United States attorney Capers.

"Conway swindled investors to the tune of more than $3.5m through a series of fraudulent business agreements and lies. Today’s plea and agreement to pay restitution should serve as a warning to others who seek to profit through deception," stated FBI assistant director-in-charge Rodriguez.

According to court filings and facts presented at the plea hearing, between March 2014 to August 2015, Conway forged lease agreements with various companies in the business of leasing office equipment, and then used these fraudulent agreements to obtain financing from private investors. As part of the scheme, he induced an individual investor to become partners with him in the leasing business. Conway would then purportedly secure a lease from a company, present the signed lease and invoices to the individual investor, who would provide funds to purchase the office equipment to be leased.

In this manner, Conway presented the individual investor with leases from approximately 58 companies, including law firms, universities, hospitals, and hotels, and the individual investor paid Conway approximately $3.5m to purchase office equipment. In reality, most of the leasing agreements that Conway provided to the individual investor were fraudulent, and Conway pocketed most of the individual investor’s money.

One of the fraudulent leasing agreements was purportedly with the New York Mets. Relying on it, the individual investor wire transferred approximately $500,000 to Conway’s bank account to purchase office equipment. Conway then used the same forged lease agreement, and a forged authorization letter from the New York Mets purportedly signed by Jeffrey Wilpon, the team’s Chief Operating Officer, to obtain financing from DLLFSP. Based on these fraudulent documents, DLLFSP wire transferred a total of approximately $313,000 to Conway’s bank account. Through this and other forgeries, Conway defrauded DLLFSP of more than $1m.