New York lawyer Harvey Newkirk was charged with defrauding lenders out of more than $8 million tied to the purchase of Maxim magazine and attempting to get an additional $20 million.
Newkirk, 39, and an unidentified man are accused of having one of them pose as a wealthy executive to persuade lenders to help finance the purchase of the men’s magazine in late 2013, according to a complaint filed by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The two men tricked two lenders into putting more than $8 million into an escrow account and tried unsuccessfully to get a third lender to kick in $20 million.
Newkirk allegedly conspired with Calvin Darden Jr., son of Darden Media Group Chairman Calvin Darden Sr., said a person familiar with the case who wasn’t authorized to speak about it. The U.S. said the unidentified co-conspirator pleaded guilty to charges related to the scheme. Darden pleaded guilty in November to impersonating his father during the Maxim Magazine fraud scheme.
Newkirk, who was working at Bryan Cave LLP at the time of the alleged fraud, had several unsuccessful business ventures with his co-conspirator since 2010, the U.S. said.
The co-conspirator impersonated his father in meetings with lenders about the proposed magazine purchase, according to prosecutors. The two men also allegedly fabricated paperwork to trick investors into believing the executive, who had “substantial means,” would be pledging his own assets as collateral for the lenders’ loans, according to the government.
Prosecutors say Newkirk falsely claimed he was an attorney for the executive during the bid to buy Maxim and during a later lawsuit over the failed deal.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cott agreed to release Newkirk on $500,000 bond secured by $100,000 in cash. He’s no longer with Bryan Cave, his lawyer, Priya Chaudhry, said after court.
“Mr. Newkirk is a brilliant and well-respected attorney with an unblemished reputation,” Chaudhry said after court. “He has done nothing wrong and we look forward to challenging the government’s overreaching and baseless allegations.”
Jeff Scott, a spokesman for Bryan Cave, said the firm “was cooperating fully with law enforcement and we will continue to do so.”
Newkirk is described on his LinkedIn page as a graduate of Columbia Law School and Cornell University who worked at Bryan Cave from June 2013 until February 2014.
Newkirk faces as long as 20 years in prison if convicted of wire fraud, according to the U.S. He’s also charged with wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.
The younger Darden, who admitted to two counts of wire fraud, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.
The elder Darden, who hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, rose to senior vice president of U.S. operations for United Parcel Service Inc., according to the website of his Atlanta-based real estate company, Darden Development Group. He serves on the boards of Target Corp., Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. and Cardinal Health Inc.
The case is U.S. v. Newkirk, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).