Feds: Former N.J. mayor stole relative's identity to buy farm
The former mayor of Manalapan, N.J. was arrested Friday for allegedly falsifying financial documents, defrauding an investor and stealing a relative’s identity to buy a $775,000 farm.
Andrew Lucas, 36, is also accused of presenting federal investigators with a bogus document backing up his dubious deals.
According to an indictment unsealed Friday, Lucas in December 2009 submitted a loan application to a New Jersey bank requesting $525,000 to finance his purchase of the Burke Farm in Manalapan.
Lucas allegedly gave the bank doctored versions of his 2007 and 2008 tax returns overstating his income, as well as a fake 2007 tax return for a relative whose name was also on the loan application. Lucas further falsely reported he had $210,000 in cash to cover the bulk of the difference between the loan and the purchase price, according to court documents.
To get the $250,000 down payment for the farm, Lucas is accused of using his business, Lucas Capital Advisors LLC, to pitch a spurious investment to a client. Lucas on Feb. 15, 2010 gave the client a written note stating he would repay with interest the client's investment in an entity called VLM Investments LLC, the indictment states.
Lucas allegedly didn’t tell the victim that, at the time the note was signed, VLM did not exist.
Prosecutors said it wasn’t until three days later that Lucas actually created VLM by registering it with the state and IRS using the name and Social Security number of an out-of-state relative who was unaware of the transaction.
Lucas on Feb. 22, 2010 wired $250,000 from his client’s investment account to a VLM bank account that had Lucas as the only authorized signer, according to court documents. The indictment states Lucas withdrew the money March 1 as a cashier’s check, which he the next day gave to the closing attorney to buy the Burke Farm property.
Lucas allegedly filed tax returns for VLM for tax years 2011 and 2012, both times listing his out-of-state relative’s name and Social Security number without the relative’s knowledge or permission.
Federal authorities investigating the transactions served Lucas Feb. 7, 2013 with subpoenas for the records of VLM and Lucas Capital Advisors. Lucas allegedly responded by providing a fake, back-dated letter claiming to be from his out-of-state relative in an attempt to hide his purported misdeeds.
Lucas was charged by an 11-count indictment with aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, loan application fraud, making an illegal monetary transaction, making false statements to the IRS, obstructing a grand jury investigation and falsifying records in a federal investigation.
If convicted, he faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the loan application fraud offense, a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of wire fraud and falsification of records, a maximum of 10 years in prison for each illegal monetary transaction and obstruction charge, a maximum of 5 years in prison for each charge of making false statements to the IRS and a maximum prison term of 2 years for aggravated identity theft.
Lucas was due to appear Friday in federal court in Trenton.