Two men were arraigned today on charges that they conspired to steal $2.5 million that they had agreed to maintain in a bank account, but quickly spent instead.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Andrew W. Vale, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Keith Eric Jergensen, age 56, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Debashis Ghosh, age 52, of Chicago, Illinois, were arraigned today in Albany before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel, and released pending a trial before U.S. District Judge Brenda K. Sannes.
According to the indictment (copy attached), Jergensen and Ghosh were Co-Chief Executive Officers of Verdant Capital Group, LLC (“Verdant”), which was in the business of helping companies obtain funding sources for construction and energy projects. In November 2010, Verdant was retained by a Plattsburgh, New York, company – identified in the indictment as “Company A” – to raise funds for the construction of an airplane maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Plattsburgh.
Jergensen and Ghosh asked Company A to invest $2.5 million as seed money for the project. They and Company A agreed that this money would remain in a Wells Fargo account and could not be moved without the authorization of Company A. Company A wired $2.5 million into the account on December 3, 2010. Five days later, Jergensen and Ghosh began transferring the money out of the account, and by March 18, 2011 they had transferred all of the $2.5 million out of the account.
According to the indictment, Jergensen and Ghosh used Company A’s $2.5 million to pay Verdant’s expenses including employees and contractors, and to pay others, including payments totaling $1.75 million to a now-defunct home energy services company that Verdant had agreed to raise money for; a $55,000 “loan” to an acquaintance; and transfers of at least $40,000 to Jergensen’s company Contour Composites, Inc.
Once Company A’s executives discovered that the $2.5 million had been transferred, they began asking Jergensen and Ghosh where it had gone. According to the indictment, Jergensen and Ghosh repeatedly and falsely assured Company A that its money was safe in another Wells Fargo account.
The charges in the indictment are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Jergensen and Ghosh are each charged with one count of wire fraud conspiracy, and, if convicted, face up to 20 years in prison, 2 years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.