BUFFALO – A Salamanca man, formerly of Queens, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering in U.S. District Court on Monday. Authorities said he cheated customers out of $1.2 Million.
Sergiy Bezrukov, 35, of Salamanca, pled before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine, according to U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Lamarque, Wei Xiang, and Mary Clare Kane, who are handling the case, stated that the defendant opened two offices in the Western New York area to operate fraudulent debt restructuring businesses. Bezrukov and others sent solicitation letters under various fictitious names, offering to assist small businesses with restructuring high interest loans. After the small business owners agreed to hire the defendant and his company, Bezrukov and others would withdraw sums of money from the bank accounts of the small businesses but never repaid any loans on their behalf. When the small business owners attempted to contact the defendant or others at the fraudulent company, they would receive no response.
During the investigation of Bezrukov’s operation in Salamanca, law enforcement officers learned that the defendant was planning to move his business out of Salamanca. As a result, federal search warrants were executed on Bezrukov’s office, home, vehicle and person. Hidden in computer hard drives, officers found and seized approximately $393,000 in cash. Later in the investigation, a check for $729,000 dollars was seized. In addition, other checks, gift cards, and quantities of cash from defendant’s operation, were also seized. In total, more than $1,400,000 was seized Bezrukov.
The defendant used the fraudulent debt restructuring business to defraud approximately 200 victims out of approximately $1,200,000. A co-defendant, Mark Farnham, was previously convicted and is awaiting sentencing.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Jonathan D. Larsen, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge; and Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly.
Sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., July 24, before Judge Vilardo.
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