Accountant Andrew N. LaVigne, 66, of Lansing, New York, pled guilty today in federal court in Binghamton to bankruptcy fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, according to a press release issued this afternoon by the U.S. Attorney's office in the Northern District of New York.
The release said LaVigne practiced in the Ithaca area for over 30 years, before filing for personal bankruptcy in 2004. According to the press release, that's when trouble began as LaVigne concealed millions of dollars from the government and stole at least a million dollars from an elderly client.
"At the time, he owed approximately $7.6 million to over 80 unsecured creditors following a failed scheme to use their money to purchase sports and entertainment memorabilia and resell it for a profit," the release states. "During the course of LaVigne’s own years‑long bankruptcy, he claimed his home as his only asset, and he did not pay back his 80 investors. In pleading guilty today, LaVigne admitted that during his bankruptcy he used his CPA practice’s bank accounts to conceal between $3.5 and $9.5 million in assets from the United States Bankruptcy Court and the Office of the United States Trustee. LaVigne laundered money by depositing funds unrelated to his CPA practice into his business accounts and then used that money for his own benefit and that of his family. In doing so, LaVigne used this money to purchase sports memorabilia, and wrote checks to himself that he never disclosed in his bankruptcy proceeding as required by law."
Separately, the release details LaVigne's defrauding of a senior citizen as part of a mail fraud scheme that took place from 2014 until 2016. The announcement states that LaVigne convinced the victim to pay $3.6 million for shares in a company that LaVigne said would be developing property at 101 Pier Road in Ithaca, which is now listed as Newman Municipal Golf Course.
"After the victim bought 90% of the company, LaVigne obtained an additional $1 million from her, purportedly to invest in the company," the announcement continues. "LaVigne did not use the $1 million to invest in the company, and never developed the property. Instead, he used the victim’s money for his own purposes, which included writing checks to himself, paying for the construction of a house for a family member, and funding payroll for his accounting practice. LaVigne also laundered payments he received from this scheme through his CPA practice accounts."
When he is sentenced in July, LaVigne will face a maximum term of 20 year as for the mail fraud count, 10 years on the money laundering count and five years for the bankruptcy fraud count. There may also be supervised release after he is freed from prison, and potentially as much as $750,000 in fines.
According to the press release, the case is still being investigated by Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations and the FBI following a referral from the Office of the United States Trustee for the Northern District of New York.