N.Y. lawyer gets six months in prison for Maxim magazine deal fraud

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 21, 2016 3:24 PM

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York lawyer was sentenced on Thursday to six months in prison for participating in a fraudulent scheme in which a con man impersonated his successful father in order to raise money to buy Maxim magazine.

Harvey Newkirk, 40, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan, four months after he was convicted of committing wire fraud in helping convicted felon Calvin Darden Jr secure financing for the failed $31 million deal.

Prosecutors said that scheme involved lying to lenders and having Darden impersonate his father, Calvin Darden Sr, a former United Parcel Service Inc executive who lenders were falsely told was putting up collateral for the loans.

Rakoff, who ordered Newkirk to pay $3.1 million in restitution, said Newkirk "used his position as a lawyer to commit a knowing and wilful fraud, and that can't be ignored."

Newkirk, who is planning to appeal, in court said that while he contested the charges, he had made mistakes and should not have trusted Darden.

"I am so sorry for the impact of my actions on my wife and children," he said.

Prosecutors said Newkirk around 2009 met Darden, an ex-stockbroker who had recently served 4-1/2 years in a New York state prison for stealing almost $6 million from three Wall Street firms and eight investors.

They began pursuing the deal to buy the men's magazine in 2013, while Newkirk was a counsel at the law firm Bryan Cave LLP, prosecutors said.

Darden and Newkirk provided fake bank account statements and emails to lenders to borrow more than $8 million and tried to secure another $20 million to buy Maxim, prosecutors said.

Newkirk also helped Darden forge documents saying the elder Darden, a board member at Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc and Target Corp and ex-senior vice president for operations at UPS, would provide collateral, prosecutors said.

While Darden's father was involved in the deal, prosecutors said he swore he had no financial involvement in it and was instead trying to help his son after his legal troubles.

Their efforts led to the 2013 announcement that Maxim's then-owner, Alpha Media Group Inc, partly owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP[CBS.UL], would sell Maxim to a company headed by Calvin Darden Sr.

The deal fell apart, and Darden was arrested in February 2014. He later pleaded guilty and testified against Newkirk. Alpha Media eventually sold Maxim to Biglari Holdings Inc.

The case is U.S. v. Newkirk, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-cr-00534.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Bernard Orr)