Ex-Synergy CEO convicted of running check fraud in U.S., Canada

NEW YORK, March 14 Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:10pm EDT

NEW YORK, March 14 (Reuters) - A former chief executive of bankrupt food company Synergy Brands Inc was convicted Friday on charges of running a check fraud scheme through banks in the United States and Canada that caused one institution to lose $26 million.

A federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, found Mair Faibish guilty on all three counts including bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and securities fraud, federal prosecutors said.

The verdict followed a three-week-long trial and came nearly two years after charges were unveiled against Faibish. Prosecutors accused Faibish and co-conspirators of a check-kiting scheme to funnel $1.3 billion in checks backed by insufficient funds through banks.

Joseph Ryan, a lawyer for Faibish, said he would ask the court to vacate the verdict and pursue an appeal if necessary.

"We will prove the jury's verdict was wrong," Ryan said. Faibish faces up to 30 years in prison.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn said Faibish, 54, also caused Synergy to file false statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about Synergy's financial condition for the second quarter of 2008.

"Through lies and deceit, the defendant and his co-conspirators took advantage of banks, auditors and unsuspecting investors and stole millions of dollars," Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

Synergy, a publicly-traded food products company, was delisted from the Nasdaq in December 2008, and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January 2011.

According to prosecutors, the check fraud was operated on behalf of Synergy. Banks would make funds from the bad checks available, enabling Faibish and others to write more checks, which were then transferred to other companies. Signature Bank lost $26 million, according to the indictment.

The case is U.S. v. Faibish, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 12-cr-265.

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