A former employee has admitted to engaging in a $2.19 million fraud scheme against 50 Cent’s liquor business based out of Hoboken, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Mitchell E. Green, 44, of Westport, Connecticut, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge Michael E. Farbiarz in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud.
“Though he was supposed to negotiate the best deal possible for his employer, Green set up secret side deals to inflate what his employer paid so that he could reap millions of dollars in kickbacks,” Sellinger said in a statement.
“Companies must be able to rely on the integrity of their agents to conduct business. When employees violate that trust and engage in fraud — like the defendant did here — this Office and our law enforcement partners are prepared to hold them accountable.”
From June 2017 through February 2020, Green worked for a Hoboken-based liquor company owned by 50 Cent: Sire Spirits, located at 22 Hudson Place.
“Owned and designed by award-winning musician, entrepreneur, actor and producer Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Le Chemin Du Roi and Branson Cognac representates an exclusive and unique focus on delivering a flawless taste of quality in every bottle of Champagne and Cognac,” their LinkedIn page says.
Green secretly negotiated side agreements with two French distilleries to pay him kickbacks through his company, Q Branch LLC, for each bottle of champagne and cognac that Green’s employer purchased from the distilleries.
Green caused his employer to unknowingly pay the cost of his kickbacks by hiding it in the per-bottle price that the distilleries charged for the champagne and cognac.
Based on those inflated prices, Green’s employer paid $14.8 million for the champagne and cognac, and Green collected $2.19 million in hidden kickbacks from the French champagne and cognac distilleries.
The charge of wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000, twice the gross profits or twice the gross loss suffered to the victims of his offense, whichever is greatest.
His sentencing is scheduled for January 23rd, 2024.
“As Green has discovered, there’s no such thing as easy money. The FBI works tirelessly to ensure that the consequences for this type of fraud far outweigh the initial payout,” added FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy.
Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Dennehy, with the investigation leading to the today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Blake Coppotelli of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit and Ari B. Fontecchio of the Special Prosecutions Division.