Guilty verdict for former president of the board of directors of the municipal credit union, Sylvia Ash

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Former municipal credit union board chair Sylvia Ash was found guilty of obstructing justice and other crimes by a New York jury on Monday.

Prosecutors said it was a cover-up because Ash suppressed and withheld evidence from a federal grand jury investigating a multi-million dollar fraud and corruption case at New Brunswick’s oldest financial cooperative. York.

The jury found the Brooklyn State Supreme Court judge guilty of two counts of obstructing justice, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count. count of making false statements to federal agents Damian Williams, United States attorney for the Southern District of New York said.

“Today’s conviction demonstrates our determination to uncover criminal conduct at the highest levels of the MCU and to ensure that those who attempt to thwart a federal investigation face the consequences of such corrosive conduct,” Williams said in a prepared statement. . As the jury unanimously concluded, Sylvia Ash took repeated action, over several months, to attempt to obstruct the federal criminal investigation into the financial misconduct at MCU that took place during the tenure of ‘Ash as chairman of the board. Obstruction of justice, especially by a sitting judge of a state court, is a serious crime, and Ash now faces punishment for his obstruction plan.

Ash, who was convicted after two weeks of testimony and evidence, is expected to be sentenced on April 20, 2022.

In early 2018, Kam Wong, the former MCU chief executive officer, had become the subject of an investigation for multi-million dollar embezzlement. He pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $ 10 million and was sentenced to five and a half years in prison in 2019.

Prosecutors said Wong needed coverage for federal investigators questioning him in 2018 when he turned to Ash to help him sell his blanket to federal agents.

When federal investigators pressured Wong about the millions he had taken from the MCU, he wrote a memo. This memo claimed in 2015, Ash, while chairman of the MCU board, told Wong that it was okay to take millions of dollars – that he was allowed to take money from. MCU instead of an insurance policy.

Wong asked Ash to sign this fake memo, and after doing so, Wong gave it to federal investigators, claiming it proved his innocence. When federal investigators confronted Ash with her signature on the note, she confessed that she knew the note was not true. The federal investigation has continued, federal prosecutors said.

Ash’s defense attorney Carrie H. Cohen, however, said her client never lied to the government and never deleted emails or text messages to derail the federal investigation.

Cohen said Ash, who trusted Wong, had been duped by him and used her to cover up his crimes.

Prosecutors pointed out, however, that while Wong embezzled millions, he made sure that Ash received plenty of benefits and reimbursements for any expenses she submitted.

While Ash served on the MCU board of directors, she earned tens and thousands of dollars in perks, flying around the world for conferences, all expenses paid to the Greek Islands, England and the Caribbean. . MCU also paid off his personal Internet, cable, and phone bill. Wong gave her the latest Apple devices and, whenever she asked, tickets to all sports games, even prime seats at the US Open. Ash also regularly used the MCU sequel at a baseball stadium to host his birthday parties, billing the MCU for all food and alcohol.

While these perks and perks don’t necessarily violate MCU policy, Ash was required to report out-of-state gifts and income annually because she was a judge in New York City. But Ash would never have reported these MCU gifts and income to the state.

Additionally, prosecutors said Ash shouldn’t even have served on the MCU board because it was a conflict of interest with his position as a judge. When a state ethics committee found out, they told him to resign from the board. But she didn’t. She stayed until an ethics complaint was filed against her. It wasn’t until then that she resigned, in 2016. Ash started serving on the MCU board in May 2008.

Even when Ash was no longer on the MCU board, the benefits continued, whether it was an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas or multiple evenings in the MCU’s suite at the stadium, according to the prosecutors.

Ash is a judge of the New York State Supreme Court in Kings County and has been a judge in the New York State court system since approximately 2006, first as a county civil court judge. of Kings, then, as of 2011, as Kings County. Supreme Court judge, according to prosecutors. In January 2016, Ash was appointed chairman of the commercial division of the Kings County Supreme Court. After the charges in this case came to light, she was suspended from her duties.

The MCU case exposed widespread fraud and corruption allegations involving not only Wong, but at least five senior executives, two members of the oversight committee and 13 former board members, resulting in more than $ 18 million. in financial losses and $ 109 million in depreciation. losses, according to civil court documents. Due to these losses, the MCU has remained under the tutelage of the NCUA since May 2019.

Former chairman of the Oversight Committee and head of the MCU’s Fraud and Security Department, Joseph Guagliardo, who is also a retired New York City police officer and certified fraud examiner, has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison last July after pleading guilty to embezzling over $ 400,000 from the credit union.

He was serving his sentence in a minimum security prison in Fort Dix, New Jersey, but is now in a halfway house in Brooklyn, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Its release date is August 2022.


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