Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chris Campos convicted for bank and wire fraud in $7 Million Dollar Car Loan Scheme

Former Hoboken, New Jersey, City Council President Found Guilty After Trial For His Participation In A $7 Million Dollar Car Loan Scheme 

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that a federal jury today found former Hoboken, New Jersey, City Council President and attorney CHRISTOPHER CAMPOS guilty of bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. CAMPOS and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained millions of dollars in car loans by using at least 20 straw buyers to acquire more than 200 new automobiles based on false representations that, among other things, the straw buyers would use the cars for their personal use when, in truth and in fact, CAMPOS and his co-conspirators obtained the vehicles in order to lease as livery cabs. The week-long trial took place before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who is scheduled to sentence CAMPOS on September 20, 2017.

CAMPOS’s co-defendant, Julio Alvarez, pled guilty to bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud on June 9, 2017. Alvarez is scheduled to be sentenced on September 8, 2017, before Judge Caproni. 

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated: “As a unanimous jury found, Christopher Campos, an attorney and former Hoboken City Council President, defrauded lenders out of millions of dollars. He recruited straw buyers to obtain loans for cars supposedly for ‘personal use,’ when in fact they made up a fleet of over 200 vehicles Campos and his co-conspirators leased to livery drivers. Campos now awaits sentencing for this massive fraud.”

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, Indictment, and the evidence presented in Court during the trial:

Between approximately October 2012 and September 2013, CAMPOS and Alvarez, among others, orchestrated a scheme to fraudulently obtain new automobiles that they intended to lease to livery cab drivers. In order to secure financing in connection with the purchase of these new cars, CAMPOS and other co-conspirators enlisted and aided individuals with good credit histories (“straw buyers”) to submit fraudulent car loan applications to numerous lenders. In order to obtain the new vehicles, CAMPOS and other co-conspirators sent straw buyers to several car dealerships located throughout the New York City area, where dealership employees helped straw buyers submit fraudulent loan applications. 

The auto loan applications submitted by the straw buyers falsely represented that the vehicles would be used for the buyers’ personal use, rather than as part of the defendants’ leasing business. In addition, in many cases, the car loan applications misrepresented personal information about the straw buyers, including their incomes and assets. CAMPOS also caused financing applications to be sent to multiple financial institutions at the same time so that the lenders would not know that the straw buyers were incurring obligations to other lenders in connection with the purchase of multiple new automobiles.

In total, the scheme carried out by CAMPOS, Alvarez, and others involved at least approximately 20 straw buyers, the purchase of more than approximately 200 new vehicles, and more than $7 million in fraudulently obtained loans from a variety of financial institutions. Most of the loans ultimately went into default. 

* * *

CAMPOS, 40, of Palisades Park, New Jersey, was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, bank fraud, and wire fraud. The conspiracy and bank fraud charges each carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and the wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. Mr. Kim also thanked the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the New York Automobile Insurance Plan, and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles for their substantial assistance in the investigation and trial.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Dina McLeod, Sagar K. Ravi, and Niketh Velamoor are in charge of the prosecution.

Chris Campos, former Hoboken City Councilman in better days
in this photo at the Elks Club

City Council President Jen Giattino on Hoboken's upcoming mayoral election

From the desk of City Council President Jen Giattino:

Like many, I was surprised with the series of events this week in Hoboken starting with our Mayor Dawn Zimmer opting not to run for a third term.  This week I have been humbled and honored by the outpouring of support from many friends, colleagues and people in our community who have expressed their support and encouraged me to run for Mayor.  I am passionate about the future of our town and giving this serious consideration.  

I plan to publicly respond soon.

Mike Russo: 'Get out of my way and behind ME for mayor!'

Third ward councilman Mike Russo, the formerly accepted de facto leader of the Old Guard is deciding the time to be de facto anything in the background is a time overdue.

According to a report on InsiderNJ, Russo is actively negotiating with the pending Anthony "Stick" Romano for mayor campaign his list of demands not to run for mayor.

Earlier, MSV described Russo the heir to the Russo Clan as nominally behind Councilman Mike DeFusco's bid for mayor.

Old Guard Russo magic however sees the fairy dust spreading out over the land and is thinking why wait four mayor years to rehabilitate his image on FBI surveillance tape.

Councilman Michael Russo strikes a pose during a City Council meeting in this vintage photo.
He's reportedly in negotiations with the pending Romano campaign whereby he either gets a big piece of pie
with council picks, director and municipal selections or he throws his own hat in for mayor.

Some aren't sure the negotiations will reach an acceptable conclusion for him as in 2009 when he told FBI informant Solomon Dwek on video he had selected all there of Beth Mason's council at-large slate in her doomed campaign for mayor and would hold a veto proof "super majority" as he called it.

If negotiations fail to produce what Michael Russo demands, i.e., council picks, director selections and municipal jobs, expect to see Mike Russo for Mayor signs to quickly spring up all over Church Towers.

From the report:

With Councilman Ravi Bhalla announcing he's running for mayor and receiving Mayor Dawn Zimmer's endorsement, most political observers including this one anticipated Stick Romano entering the race this week. Perhaps Romano will or he won't but Friday would seem to be a deadline for serious action. Lack of decisiveness is long past and Romano many believe must make his move with or without HudCo standing by his side.

Meanwhile, a blood feud erupted with a DeFusco fundraiser who once worked for Mayor Zimmer in a similar capacity and Romano earlier this week. The report says they were nose to nose at Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop's fundraiser in a war of words over who has bigger cohones or some such fighting words.

According to the report, the showdown materialized like this:

"Romano and DeFusco operative Ray Ferraioli found each other in the steakhouse crowd.
DeFusco wants the votes of those anti-Zimmer people.
So does Romano.
So Ferraioli and Romano had words.
Ferraioli buffaloed the former cop, and Romano got up in Ferraioli’s face, nose to nose, the hair going back on the neck of each and nostrils flaring, sources said.
Ferraioli told Romano that at least DeFusco ran against Zimmer.
The freeholder didn’t have the guts, he said – or words to that effect.
Romano hated that.
The allies of the Hoboken councilman say Stick, as he’s known, is not a serious candidate, and if he were serious the HCDO would have already issued one of its press releases embracing his candidacy.
The story doesn't end there. It also speaks about the Old Guard urging City Council President Jen Giattino to enter the race as she "sniffs out" the landscape, presumably as it's beneficial to one of more potential Old Guard candidacies.
Who's in, out getting in as discussed earlier is all in a state of flux. To date, those officially in the race are Councilman Mike DeFusco, Councilman Ravi Bhalla, local businesswoman Karen Nason and Hoboken activist Ronald Bautista.
The only sure thing other than death and taxes is that this lineup will change come September and definitely by November.

Ravi Bhalla for Hoboken mayor announces

Hi MSV readers,
As you may have heard, Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced that after 10 years of serving in public office, she will not be seeking re-election as Mayor.  During her time in office, Mayor Zimmer has made our amazing town an even better place. I am incredibly grateful for her tireless service to our community and thank her for all she has done for Hoboken. 
I want you to know that with Dawn’s encouragement and endorsement, I am running for Mayor of Hoboken. I intend to continue our reform movement, upholding the values of honesty and integrity, to keep our City moving in the right direction.  
When I first came to Hoboken seventeen years ago, I was a 26 year old bachelor starting my first job after completing law school. I eventually found the love of my life, my wife Bindya. Before long our family grew as well, as we were blessed with our daughter, Arza and our son, Shabegh and chose to raise them in Hoboken. Through it all, the one thing that has remained constant is our unconditional love for our City.
When I first came to Hoboken, I never expected to get involved in local government, much less run for office. But, as I saw our city government raise municipal taxes 70% and the state appoint a fiscal monitor in 2008, I had enough. Rather than run to the suburbs, I decided to make a difference and run for office. 
Working together with Mayor Zimmer and the Council, I am proud we have set the City in the right direction. We restored fiscal responsibility to City finances, kept our hospital in town when it was going under, created more open space, substantially addressed flooding, invested in our water mains, and more.
But we still have work to do. I pledge to work with my colleagues on the Council to put forward policies that are in the best interests of our residents, not the interests of developers or special interest groups.
I am humbled and honored that Mayor Zimmer has placed her trust in me and encouraged me to step forward and run for Mayor. With your support and our unity, Hoboken’s best days are yet to come. 
In the weeks ahead, I look forward to sharing with you my ideas for keeping Hoboken’s reform moving in the right direction.
Ravi Bhalla
PS - Please join me the evening of June 28 at the Turtle Club (7 pm) to thank Mayor Zimmer for her service to Hoboken. Click here for details.