(STL.News) – Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, the Inspector in Charge of the New York Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced that Andrew Garson
was arrested today on wire fraud charges in connection with a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud two public relations firms where Garson worked, and a subsequent scheme to obtain New York State unemployment insurance benefits to which Garson was not entitled.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As a public relations executive, Andrew Garson’s expertise in garnering positive attention for his clients is well known, even earning him a spot on the ‘40 Under 40’ in a popular industry magazine. But behind the scenes, Garson allegedly schemed to steal from his employers, eventually costing them over $2 million in losses. Andrew Garson has likely generated his own (negative) publicity, and now faces the possibility of serious time in federal prison.”
USPIS Inspector in Charge Philip R. Bartlett said: “As alleged, Mr. Garson’s arrogance and disrespect for his employers and the rule of law was on full display in this case. He allegedly lied and stole from his employers to feed his greed and fund his personal endeavors. Mr. Garson may have plenty of time to utilize his keen public relations skills if convicted of the charges.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
Between approximately 2013 and 2018, Garson was employed as an executive at two different marketing/public relations agencies located in New York, New York, the first between approximately 2013 and January 2018 (“PR Firm-1”), and the second between approximately January 2018 and November 2018 (“PR Firm-2”). In his respective roles at those two firms, GARSON was responsible for working directly with clients, coordinating various marketing and public relations campaigns, and managing vendor relationships in connection with such campaigns. In or about July 2018, Garson was named a “40 Under 40” public relations executive by PR Week Magazine. For years, however, Garson engaged in a scheme to lie to his two employers, which fraudulently induced interstate wire transfers of funds and caused his employers millions of dollars in losses.
One such series of misrepresentations by Garson resulted in the unauthorized payment by PR Firm-2 of expenses owed to vendors in connection with marketing campaigns led by Garson while employed at PR Firm‑1. Over the course of Garson’s first several months of employment at PR Firm-2, Garson lied to certain vendors, stating that PR Firm-2 had agreed to cover expenses still owed to those vendors related to Garson’s prior projects at PR Firm-1. In fact, PR Firm-2 did not authorize the payment of those expenses. In order to cause PR Firm-2 to effect payment of these expenses, Garson created fraudulent invoices falsely claiming that the vendors were due payment for work performed on PR Firm-2 projects. In this fashion, Garson caused PR Firm-2 to pay substantial expenses to vendors with which Garson had worked on projects while employed at PR Firm-1, thereby causing losses to PR Firm-2 in excess of $2.5 million.
In addition, while employed at PR Firm-1, Garson used his corporate credit card for unauthorized personal expenses. For example, in or about August 2017, Garson purchased a luxury watch using his PR Firm-1 corporate credit card for approximately $14,000, claiming that that the expense related to event production for a client marketing event. Garson later sold the watch to a New Jersey jewelry store in or about December 2018 for approximately $4,000. Garson deposited the money that he earned from the sale of the watch into his personal bank account.
Garson similarly defrauded PR Firm-2 with respect to the unauthorized use of his corporate credit card. For example, Garson submitted expense reports to PR Firm-2 in which he claimed the same expense for reimbursement on more than one occasion, causing PR Firm-2 to reimburse Garson twice for the same expenditure.
After uncovering certain aspects of the fraud scheme perpetrated by Garson, PR Firm-2 terminated Garson in or about November 2018. In the course of applying for unemployment insurance program benefits from the New York State Department of Labor following his termination, Garson lied regarding the circumstances surrounding his separation from PR Firm-2. According to the New York State Department of Labor, had Garson truthfully conveyed the circumstances surrounding his termination from PR Firm-2, Garson would have been ineligible for the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits. As a result of his misrepresentations, between in or about December 2018 and in or about March 2019, Garson received a total of over $5,000 in unemployment insurance benefits to which he was not entitled. As part of the scheme, Garson engaged in and caused others to engage in interstate wire communications. For example, on at least one occasion Garson logged onto the New York State Department of Labor’s unemployment website, hosted on a server located in New York, from a location in New Jersey.