BOSTON (WWLP) – A federal jury convicted a Connecticut man Friday of fraudulently obtaining over $500,000 from his former employer, New England Sports Network (NESN).
According to the Department of Justice, 51-year-old Ariel Legassa was convicted of mail fraud and unlawful monetary transactions. Legassa was first arrested and indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2022.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Legassa orchestrated a scheme to defraud NESN from approximately December 2020 to January 2022. In early 2021, Legassa negotiated a contract with a New York company to provide web development services to NESN.
Additionally, Legassa created a fake business under the same name as the new vendor. This company was then used by him to receive fraudulent payments from NESN.
Legassa created and approved eleven fake invoices from his fake business during the course of the contract between the New York company and NESN, in addition to approving legitimate invoices from the New York company. NESN paid Legassa’s fake company $575,500 in total.
Afterward, Legassa spent the funds on personal expenses, including a private plane, a Tesla, a BMW, a Land Rover, and credit card bills. Additionally, he transferred the funds to other accounts under his control.
“Mr. Legassa thought he could outsmart NESN and the law. Clearly, he was wrong,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “Today’s jury verdict emphasizes that fraudsters who abuse the trust of their employers like Mr. Legassa will be found and held accountable, no matter how deceptive and sly their schemes may be.”
“Everyone would love more take-home pay, but defrauding your employer clearly isn’t the answer,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Ariel Legassa must have launched this scheme because he thought he’d get away with it. Fortunately, our investigative team —and this jury — didn’t let him and he’ll now be held accountable for his actions.”
A conviction for mail fraud may result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense.
The charge of unlawful monetary transactions carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss. Federal district court judges impose sentences based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting U.S. Attorney Levy and FBI SAC Cohen made the announcement Friday. Prosecutors in the case are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin A. Saltzman and Mackenzie A. Queenin of the Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit.
Judge Indira Talwani set the sentencing for Dec. 20, 2023.