Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that KAM WONG, the former chief executive officer (“CEO”) and president of the oldest New York credit union (the “Credit Union”), a non-profit financial institution, pled guilty in Manhattan federal court today to embezzling millions of dollars from the Credit Union. WONG pled guilty before U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As he admitted in court today, Kam Wong, the former CEO and president of New York’s oldest credit union, abused his position of trust as a guardian of municipal, state, and federal workers’ financial accounts to enrich himself. In so doing, Wong stole money from the credit union that could have gone to the credit union’s members, and tried to cover up what he had done by making false statements to federal investigators and creating false and misleading documents. I commend the Special Agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and our law enforcement partners, for their tireless efforts in this ongoing investigation.”
According to the Complaint, the Information, statements made in court and publicly available documents:
WONG was the CEO and president of the Credit Union, a non-profit financial institution headquartered in New York, New York, which is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration Board. The Credit Union is the oldest credit union in New York State and one of the oldest and largest in the country, providing banking services to more than 425,000 members, including municipal, state, and federal workers in New York City. The Credit Union’s earnings are intended to be directed back to its members in the form of more favorable rates and fewer and lower fees for products and services.
From 2013 through January 2018, WONG engaged in a long-running multi-faceted scheme to obtain money from the Credit Union to which he knew he was not entitled, and took steps to seek to conceal what he had done. Among other things, WONG embezzled from and defrauded the Credit Union by submitting sham invoices for dental work never performed on him or paid by him, and, as a result, fraudulently obtained reimbursement for hundreds of thousands of dollars of such nonexistent dental work. In addition, WONG fraudulently caused the Credit Union to pay him additional monies that he knew he was not entitled to receive, including millions of dollars of payments in lieu of purported long-term disability insurance, and for purported taxes owed on these and other employment benefits.
WONG also misapplied money and other things of value from the Credit Union, with respect to, among other things, reimbursement payments for repairs to luxury vehicles the Credit Union leased to WONG, which repair work was already covered by the Credit Union’s insurance; cash advances to which he was not entitled; educational, housing, and living expenses for two of WONG’s friend’s relatives; payments for his leave days that did not comply with and exceeded what was provided for under his employment contract; the purchase of a Mercedes-Benz automobile that was not provided for under his employment contract; the leasing of multiple luxury vehicles at the same time; electronic devices (including, iPhones, iPads, and laptops) for personal use by WONG and others; and reimbursement, as business expenses, of personal expenses, including hotel stays. In addition, WONG obtained controlled substances, for personal use, from a former Credit Union Supervisory Committee member.
In January 2018, after WONG learned about the investigation, WONG sought to obstruct justice by making false statements to federal investigators and creating false and misleading documents to try, after the fact, to explain and justify some of these payments.
WONG, 62, of Valley Stream, Long Island, pled guilty to one count of embezzlement from a federally insured credit union, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. As a condition of his plea, WONG also agreed to forfeit at least $9,890,375 and to pay at least $9,890,375 in restitution to the Credit Union.
WONG is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Koeltl on April 5, 2019, at 10:00 a.m.
The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentencing of WONG will be determined by the judge.
U.S. Attorney Berman praised the outstanding work of the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office. Mr. Berman also thanked the New York County District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Department of Financial Services, and the National Credit Union Administration.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eli J. Mark and Daniel C. Richenthal are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alona Katz from the New York County District Attorney’s Office.