CORRECTED-Ex-UPS exec's son faces fraud charges in scheme over Maxim magazine

Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:26pm EST

(Corrects to say in paragraph 18 that Darden surrendered to the Secret Service, not the FBI)

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday charged the son of a former United Parcel Service Inc executive with impersonating his father to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars that was intended to finance the purchase of Maxim magazine last year.

Calvin Darden Jr., 39, faces two counts of wire fraud for his role in an elaborate scheme involving fake emails and bank statements to obtain more than $8 million and attempt to secure another $20 million, the prosecutors said.

Darden was arrested Wednesday after what a prosecutor described as a manhunt. He is the son of Calvin Darden Sr., a former vice president of U.S. operations at UPS.

A lawyer for Darden, Xavier Donaldson, declined to comment. His father did not respond to requests for comment.

In September, Alpha Media Group Inc, which is partially owned by Cerberus Capital Management, announced an agreement to sell Maxim to Darden Media Group, a company headed by Calvin Darden Sr. It was unclear from court documents whether Darden Jr. was involved in that deal, which did not go through.

According to a criminal complaint, the younger Darden last year provided a fake bank account statement to an unidentified lender that showed stock holdings by his father in at least three companies for which the senior Darden served as a director.

Darden's father serves on the board of directors of Target Corp, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc and Cardinal Health Inc.

After the lender put $5.5 million in escrow, Darden sent a fake email to the law firm holding the money authorizing the release of the funds, according to the complaint.

As a result, the law firm, which was also unidentified, released $4.9 million of the funds, which was to be used toward the purchase of the men's magazine company, the complaint said.

A second lender provided $3 million on the belief its loan was secured by the same stock after also receiving a bogus account statement, according to charging documents.

Darden attempted to get $20 million from a third lender, which by December 2013 had agreed to be involved in the possible transaction as long as a cable channel was created based on Maxim's content, the complaint said.

Darden, from the New York City borough of Staten Island, also tricked a Taiwanese company into paying him $500,000 after falsely claiming he would arrange an exhibition match by the New York Knicks basketball team, authorities said.

"Everyone deserves the right to make an honest living, but not by lying, cheating, or at the expense of others," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said in a statement.

James Pastore, an assistant U.S. attorney, called the case "an audacious fraud. A search of Darden's home uncovered documents that appeared related to "other similar frauds," he added.

"We have the possibility of more victims," Pastore said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck set bail at $1 million and ordered home detention. Prosecutors had argued that Darden should be held in jail as a flight risk and danger to the community.

Pastore said that Darden led federal agents on a manhunt on Wednesday, a day after authorities contacted his wife.

Darden wasn't at home when federal agents went to arrest him shortly after 6 a.m., then lied by claiming he was in Long Island when he was in a New Jersey hotel, Pastore said.

Agents who arrived at the hotel found Darden's car abandoned, Pastore said. Darden later surrendered to the Secret Service.

Darden faces a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted.

This is not the first time Darden has faced criminal charges. In 2005, the former stock broker pleaded guilty to New York state charges that he stole almost $6 million from 11 people.

Darden was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison. He was released in September 2008 and returned to jail in August 2010 for less than two months due to a parole violation, a spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Corrections said. (Editing by Amanda Kwan)

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