Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of CHRISTOPHER VULLIEZ, 37, for running a scheme that resulted in thefts totaling in excess of $2 million from approximately a dozen victims. VULLIEZ pleaded guilty to seven counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, six counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, and ten counts of felony violations of the Martin Act (the New York State securities fraud law). VULLIEZ will also forfeit approximately $2.2 million, which will be distributed to victims.
“The defendant abused his status as a hedge fund manager to steal from his friends and family, reminding us how vulnerable we all are to those intent on crime, even those in our inner circles,” said District Attorney Vance. “This case once again demonstrates the need to enhance the Martin Act, so that law enforcement authorities can more aggressively prosecute white collar crimes.”
According to documents filed in court and VULLIEZ’S plea allocution, VULLIEZ received funds from approximately a dozen friends and family members, who he had asked to invest in particularized securities, and solicited other individuals to lend money to him based on his claimed personal circumstances. VULLIEZ represented that he would be investing his investors’ money in specific, promising new businesses. At the time he made these representations, he did not intend to make such investments, and in fact, VULLIEZ never did so.
Additionally, to persuade individuals to lend him money, the defendant made numerous intentionally false statements and promises, telling certain lenders that he had sufficient assets to cover the loan money but that his assets were temporarily frozen due to divorce litigation. At the time he made these representations, there was no divorce litigation and no frozen assets. Instead of using the investors’ and lenders’ money in the way he represented, VULLIEZ re-directed their money to a company called EatStrong and to cover defendant’s other unauthorized business and personal expenses.
In September, the District Attorney’s Office also entered into a settlement agreement in a related civil asset forfeiture case against an individual who will disgorge approximately $1 million that she received from VULLIEZ traceable to these crimes.
District Attorney Vance thanked Assistant District Attorney Vimi Bhatia of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau, who handled the case under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Micki Shulman and Bureau Chief Richard Weber. Trial Preparation Assistants Elah Lanis and Marisa Calleja assisted in the investigation, as did Investigator Louis Capolupo of the District Attorney’s Office’s Investigations Bureau, who assisted in this case under the supervision of Chief Investigator John Bilich. District Attorney Vance also thanked Assistant District Attorneys Tara Miner and Duncan Levin, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, who handled the asset forfeiture aspects of the case.
District Attorney Vance also thanked the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Regional Office, for its participation and support in a parallel civil investigation.
CHRISTOPHER VULLIEZ, D.O.B. 4/24/73
New York, NY