NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York lawyer was found guilty on Monday of engaging in a fraud in which a con man impersonated his successful father in order to raise money to buy Maxim magazine.
Harvey Newkirk, 39, was convicted by a federal jury in Manhattan on one count of wire fraud stemming from his involvement in helping convicted felon Calvin Darden Jr secure financing for the failed $31 million deal.
To close that deal, prosecutors said Darden impersonated his father, Calvin Darden Sr, a former senior executive at United Parcel Service Inc, who lenders were falsely told was putting up collateral for the loans.
Newkirk, formerly a counsel at the law firm Bryan Cave LLP, helped Darden carry out that fraud, lying over and over again in hopes of pushing through the transaction to buy the men’s magazine, prosecutors said.
While Newkirk was found guilty of wire fraud, jurors acquitted him on two other counts of conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. Priya Chaudhry, Newkirk’s lawyer, said he plans to appeal.
Newkirk was first charged in April, five months after Darden, 41, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges related to the magazine deal.
Prosecutors said Darden and Newkirk provided fake bank account statements and emails to lenders to borrow more than $8 million and were attempting to secure another $20 million to buy the magazine.
Newkirk also allegedly helped Darden forge documents saying the elder Darden, a board member at Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc and Target Corp and ex-senior vice president for operations at UPS, would provide collateral, prosecutors said.
While Darden’s father was involved in the deal, prosecutors said he swore that he had no financial involvement in it and was instead trying to help his son following a prior run-in with the law.
In that case, the younger Darden served about 4-1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2005 to New York state charges that in a prior career as a stockbroker, he stole almost $6 million from three Wall Street firms and eight investors.
Darden’s push to buy Maxim led to the 2013 announcement that Maxim’s then-owner, Alpha Media Group Inc, partly owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP[CBS.UL], would sell the magazine to a company headed by Calvin Darden Sr.
But the $31 million deal did not go through and Alpha Media eventually sold Maxim to Biglari Holdings Inc.
The case is U.S. v. Newkirk, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-cr-00534.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Additional reporting by Brendan Pierson; Editing by Dan Grebler