$500K Scheme: Owner Of Westchester-Based Company Stole From Retirement Accounts

A former financial advisor from the Hudson Valley has been convicted of participating in a scheme to steal from a retirement fund sponsored by a labor union for law enforcement employees. 

A 55-year-old Hudson Valley man has been convicted of helping to steal from the retirement accounts of union members.
A 55-year-old Hudson Valley man has been convicted of helping to steal from the retirement accounts of union members. Photo Credit: Pixabay/Gerd Altmann

Putnam County resident Andrew Brown, age 55, of Putnam Valley, was convicted of defrauding members of the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association (LEEBA), a labor union for law enforcement officers employed by New York City, the US Attorney's Office for Southern District of New York announced on Wednesday, May 31. 

Brown, along with former LEEBA President and New York State Trooper Kenneth Wynder, Jr. of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, defrauded union members by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from LEEBA's Annuity Fund, which funded individual members' retirement accounts. 

According to federal officials, between 2012 and 2020, both Brown and Wynder participated in the scheme to steal, embezzle, and misappropriate money from the Annuity Fund. To do this, the duo would fraudulently transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars from the fund to LEEBA's operating account, which was controlled by Wynder in his role as President. 

Wynder would then regularly use these transferred funds for his own benefit at the expense of union members. This included unauthorized checks to himself and cash withdrawals for his own benefit. Wynder would also use the transferred funds to pay insurance benefits, which Brown, the founder of a Westchester-based financial services company, would receive commissions for. 

Additionally, Wynder also used the funds to pay for a new Lexus automobile, a trip to Dallas to watch a Dallas Cowboys football game, and a sailing trip, all paid for by the union and not reported to the Internal Revenue Service as required. 

Wynder and Brown would both transfer the funds from the Annuity Fund by making false statements to a third-party retirement plan manager that served as the custodian for the fund and the members' individual retirement accounts. 

Between 2014 and 2019, the duo ended up withdrawing more than $500,000 from the fund's individual retirement accounts, which wiped out the entire balance for certain union members. 

During this time, Brown and Wynder would also make and approve false statements to LEEBA's members about how they were using their retirement accounts. Additionally, Wynder would hide the scheme by having LEEBA fail to file mandatory reports and financial disclosures with New York City and public reports to the Annuity Fund's members, as well as making false statements to auditors and accountants. 

Both Brown and Wynder were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud, which each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Wynder was also convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and four counts of tax evasion, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

They will both be sentenced to prison on Wednesday, Oct. 18. 

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