LAWFUEL.COM – Legal Newswire
LEV L. DASSIN, the Acting United States Attorney for
the Southern District of New York, announced that, following a
seven-day jury trial, MICHAEL SCHLUSSEL was found guilty this
afternoon on charges arising out of a scheme in which he tricked
a large number of companies into paying sums they did not owe by
mass-mailing invoice-style solicitations for fluorescent light
bulbs to thousands of companies across the country.
According to the evidence set forth at trial:
SCHLUSSEL operated a collections agency called “Alden
Curtis and Michaels, Ltd.” He was aware that, due to the volume
of invoices processed by most businesses, businesses sometimes
will pay invoices without verifying that the goods were actually
delivered, especially in situations where the invoice is for less
than $1,000. SCHLUSSEL took advantage of this by mass-mailing
thousands of solicitations for fluorescent light bulbs. The
solicitations were styled to appear as invoices, in the amount of
$995. SCHLUSSEL established several shell companies to mail the
invoice-style solicitations, providing as return addresses
mailboxes at commercial mail receiving agencies. To avoid using
a mail meter that could be traced, SCHLUSSEL sent the mass
mailings with individual stamps. To conceal the disposition of
funds paid on the fake invoice/solicitations, the checks were
double-endorsed and deposited into the Alden Curtis and Michaels
account. Over 100 companies that sent checks in response to the
invoice-style solicitations confirmed that they did not order
light bulbs. Several additional companies, the checks of which
were cashed, also confirmed that they never received light bulbs
after the fact. In total, companies have sent at least $700,000
worth of checks as a result of the fraud.
SCHLUSSEL, 57, of Rego Park, New York, was found guilty
of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of
mail fraud. He faces a maximum prison term of twenty years and a
maximum fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross
pecuniary gain or loss resulting from the crime on each count.
SCHLUSSEL must pay restitution to the victims of his crime.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 21, 2009, at 10:00
a.m. before United States District Judge JOHN F. KEENAN.
Mr. DASSIN praised the work of the United States Postal
This case is being handled by the Office’s Major Crimes
Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys WILLIAM J. HARRINGTON
and JULIAN J. MOORE are in charge of the prosecution.