FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Long Island Man and California Lawyer Indicted for Allegedly Conspiring to Steal Over $250,000 From Three Victims in Fraudulent Scheme
Allegedly Told Victims that Defendant’s Son was Critically Ill and
Urgently Needed Funds for Treatment Overseas
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that two men have been indicted on charges of grand larceny, scheme to defraud and money laundering for allegedly conspiring to steal over $250,000, using fraudulent claims about an investment opportunity, a real estate sale and a gravely ill child to induce three people to lend or pay them money. It is alleged that the defendants falsely claimed that the victims’ money would be used to pay for life-saving medical treatment for one defendant’s son, and further claimed that the victims would be compensated when the defendant inherited a valuable estate from his elderly, dying uncle.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants allegedly preyed on the sympathy of their victims to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. I strongly encourage anyone considering investing money or purchasing real estate to be prudent and look into the backgrounds of those with whom they are doing business.”
The District Attorney identified the defendants as Douglas Mills, 57, of Baldwin, New York and an indicted co-conspirator who was arrested yesterday in California and is awaiting extradition. Mills was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a six-count indictment in which he is charged with fourth-degree conspiracy, second-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud and second- and third-degree money laundering. He was ordered held on bail of $20,000 bond or $10,000 cash and to return to court on October 16, 2019. The defendants face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendants allegedly conspired to induce the victims to lend or pay them money based on fraudulent representations that Mills’ young son was critically ill and required medical treatment at a clinic overseas. The defendants also falsely claimed that Mills would soon inherit a property on Ninth Street, in Brooklyn, which was owned by his uncle. It is alleged that Mills’ son was not ill and did not require treatment overseas, and that Mills’ uncle did not own the Brooklyn property.
In December 2016, Mills allegedly told the first victim, who he met through a mutual acquaintance, that he urgently needed $150,000 to bring his young son to Switzerland, where the boy could receive treatment for his life-threatening illness. Mills proposed an investment opportunity, whereby the victim would lend Mills $150,000 to pay for the medical treatment, and Mills would repay the victim $300,000 within a few months. According to the investigation, Mills claimed that he would be able to repay the victim when he inherited his uncle’s property on Ninth Street.
The indictment further alleges that the indicted co-conspirator, an attorney, claimed to represent Mills. The attorney sent the victim documents that purported to formalize the investment agreement and assured him that he would be paid $300,000 by April 2017. As a result of the defendants’ representations, the victim wired $150,000 to his attorney trust account. The day he received the funds, the co-defendant allegedly transferred $80,000 from his trust account to other accounts he owned or controlled at the same bank and transferred an additional $55,000 to outside accounts held by other entities.
The victim was not repaid in April 2017. Instead, Mills and the co-defendant allegedly offered the victim a series of excuses, including the claim that Mills’ uncle had died, but that the defendants did not have access to Mills’ inheritance because the estate had not been settled.
The indictment further alleges that, later in 2017, Mills and the co-defendant stole approximately $116,000 from two more victims, a married couple who were looking to purchase a home in Brooklyn. Mills allegedly claimed, again, that he would inherit the property on Ninth Street after his uncle passed away and offered to sell it to the victims for approximately $100,000 on the condition that the husband pay immediately. As with the first victim, Mills and the co-defendant allegedly told the couple that Mills needed the money to cover the cost of his son’s medical treatment at a clinic in Switzerland. Mills also allegedly told the victim that he would pay him $425,000 if he was unable to deliver the title to the Ninth Street property for any reason. The defendant asked for a cashier’s check for $34,000 and accompanied the victim to his bank, where he received the money. The following day, at Mills’ direction, the victim allegedly wired $72,000 to the co-defendant’s attorney trust account.
The co-defendant allegedly sent the victim and his wife a fraudulent real estate contract memorializing Mills’ agreement to sell the victim the Ninth Street property, and personally guaranteed that the victim would be paid $425,000 if Mills was unable to deliver the title for any reason.
Several months later, Mills allegedly told the victim’s wife that he needed $10,000 to fly to Switzerland to be with his son, who was on his deathbed. The defendant went to the victim’s wife’s workplace to receive the money and allegedly said he would repay her within weeks, when his uncle finally passed away. The victims did not receive title to the property and were never repaid.
Anyone who believes they were victimized by these defendants should call the District Attorney’s Action Center at 718-250-2340.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Kurtz, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt