LONG ISLAND, NY (TIP): In what could be seen as a decisive action by FBI against Harendra Singh, a prominent Long Island restaurateur, FBI agents arrested him on multiple criminal charges at dawn Wednesday, September 9 morning at his Long Island home, according to sources, says a Newsday report.
A 13—count indictment was unsealed this morning in federal court in Central Islip charging Harendra Singh, also known as “H. Singh,” with five counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of honest services wire fraud conspiracy, one count of federal program bribery, one count of disaster relief fraud, two counts of conspiring to defraud the United States, one count of impeding the Internal Revenue Service, one count of tampering with evidence, and one count of obstruction of justice.
The charges, according to the sources, include bribery of a public official, failing to pay millions of dollars in taxes, obstruction of justice and falsely receiving almost a $1 million from the government by filing a false report with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on damages to one of his restaurants because of superstorm Sandy.
“As alleged, Harendra Singh ran his businesses through fraud and deceit, using bribes and kickbacks to tilt the playing field in the Town of Oyster Bay. He accomplished this by lying to FEMA and the IRS in order to obtain hundreds of thousands of Hurricane Sandy disaster relief funds to which he was not entitled and evading taxes on millions of dollars of sales and wages,” stated Acting United States Attorney Currie. “The obligation to deal honestly is shared by everyone in our society, and we and our partners in the FBI and IRS-CI are unwavering in our commitment to root out corruption at all levels.” “The charges alleged in today’s indictment describe an outpouring of greed. As alleged, Singh put local business owners at a significant disadvantage, siphoned funds from public money he was not entitled to, and sidestepped his responsibility to pay taxes on underreported income.
The sources said that a former Town of Oyster Bay official was also arrested as the recipient of the bribery in order for Singh to illegally receive loan guarantees from the town for work on the food operations he has at town facilities.
The indictment charges that Singh paid bribes and kickbacks to a Town employee (identified in the indictment as co-conspirator #3) in exchange for the co-conspirator’s assistance in obtaining the Town’s guarantee of two loans totaling approximately $20 million that two of Singh’s businesses received from a private corporate financing company (identified in the indictment as the Lender). As a result, were Singh’s entities to default on the loans, the Town would be responsible for repaying the Lender the entire amount of the loan.
The first loan, which closed in November 2011, was for $7,843,138. Approximately one week after the loan closed, Singh gave co-conspirator #3 an envelope with five checks, each in the amount of $5,000; the five checks were made out to “cash.”
The second loan, which closed in June 2012, was for $12,273,748. Approximately one week after closing, Singh gave co-conspirator #3 an envelope with five additional checks, each in the amount of $5,000; the five checks were each made out to “cash.” In addition, Singh paid for co-conspirator #3 and a relative to travel to Asia a few weeks after the second loan closed, including all transportation and hotel expenses.
The indictment alleges that in late 2012 and 2013, Singh sought an additional loan of approximately $12 million from the Lender in connection with improvements to be made to Singh’s concession facilities at two Town beaches. To assist Singh, co-conspirator #3 arranged for meetings between the Lender and Town officials. Although the loan was not ultimately extended, between September 2012 and February 2015, Singh made monthly cash payments to co-conspirator #3 for the lease of a BMW automobile.
Newsday has reported that Singh had paid for travel for a deputy town attorney, Frederick Mei, who recently resigned and had been a key official in negotiating the loan guarantees.
Newsday has been exposing the fraud for the last couple of months. The Indian Panorama in its August 20 edition had demanded, besides the ongoing investigation in to the allegations against Harendra Singh, a broader investigation in to the activities of a mafia operating in Nassau County, in collusion with town and county officials.
Newsday says, Singh’s attorney, Joseph Conway, early Wednesday morning declined to comment, as did federal officials, says the Newsday report.
Singh and the official are expected to be arraigned later Wednesday, September 9 in federal court in Central Islip.
(Based on a Newsday report of September 9, 2015)