Belle Harbor man pleads guilty to bank fraud: FBI

By Sarina Trangle

The FBI announced last month that a Belle Harbor business executive had pleaded guilty to bank fraud.

Agents detailed their case against Mark Bernstein, 63, who was arrested last year, while announcing charges against the chief executive officer who succeeded Bernstein at a Manhattan-based luggage company.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Bernstein secured $6.9 million in bank loans by providing the lender with false documents between 2007 and October 2009.

Bernstein was arrested in August and pleaded guilty to bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, making a false statement to influence bank action, wire fraud and money laundering in Manhattan federal court in October, agents said.

He was scheduled to be sentenced April 28 before Judge Robert Patterson.

Bernstein’s lawyer did not return a call for comment.

Federal prosecutors outlined the scheme in a criminal complaint, which noted that Bernstein sent duplicated and fabricated invoices, false shipping documents and inaccurate monthly inventories to Israel Discount Bank of New York to secure more credit. The complaint said Bernstein then diverted $3.5 million to an alleged co-conspirator’s personal bank accounts through shell corporations this partner controlled.

George Venizelos, assistant director in charge of the FBI New York Field Office, said the luggage company defaulted on about $6 million of the loans it received.

“Bank fraud is a serious crime that weakens the economic integrity of our financial institutions,” Venizelos said in a statement. “Individuals who try to line their pockets by engaging in financial fraud schemes should be reminded that their criminal activity will not go undetected.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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