NEW YORK (AP) — An Illinois man who forged the signature of the Canadian deputy health commissioner and defrauded investors was sentenced in New York to five years in prison Tuesday.
Howard Leventhal was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court by Judge Brian M. Cogan. Prosecutors said Leventhal claimed he had agreements to market a device named after Dr. Leonard McCoy, a fictional character on TV's Star Trek series.
They said Leventhal claimed his company, Neovision USA Inc., would market the product as "Heltheo's McCoy Home Health Tablet."
The government said Leventhal cited agreements signed by Glenda Yeates, Canada's former deputy health commissioner, as he solicited more than $26 million from investors. But prosecutors said there was no agreement with Health Canada and Yeates' signature was a forgery.
"Leventhal used his considerable imagination, non-existent technology, and stolen identities to deceive a number of entities and individuals," said U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers. "Fortunately for investors, his alternate reality, propped up by fabricated bank documents, unraveled and collapsed when he attempted to defraud an undercover FBI agent."
William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the FBI's New York office, urged investors to do research before spending their money and to notify the FBI if fraud is suspected.
"Stranger than fiction truly applies in this case with the subject using a popular sci-fi movie as the inspiration to scam millions of dollars from people. He also forged the signature of the Canadian deputy health minister, which not many people would question as legitimate," Sweeney said in a release.
The 60-year-old Grayslake, Illinois, resident had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.