Adam Hochfelder was back in court on Thursday, where he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor fraud charge in a scheme involving Knicks season tickets, a false order from a fashion retailer and a Manhattan apartment building, according to court documents.
The case arose out of Hochfelder’s 2008 fraud case, when he was accused of defrauding banks, friends and family out of more than $18 million and sent to prison for about two years. A victim from that case recently approached the Manhattan district attorney’s office because he felt that Hochfelder was now back on his feet financially, and he was no longer getting paid enough under the original restitution agreement, according to sources familiar with the matter. The district attorney’s office then began looking into the claim, the sources said.
Law enforcement officials determined that Hochfelder had defrauded eight people out of almost $500,000 between 2015 and 2017 in three separate incidents, according to his plea agreement. All but one has been paid back by Hochfelder, the plea agreement states.
The first incident took place in 2015, when he told three people he had purchased season tickets for the Knicks and wanted to sell several of the games to partners. Each person gave him $12,000 in exchange for several Knicks tickets, but Hochfelder never had or purchased any of the tickets and instead used the money on personal expenses and debts, court documents say. He eventually repaid two of the three people.
The second incident occurred in 2016, when Hochfelder told someone that his wife had a “pending order from a large fashion retailer,” and they needed to raise $150,000 “for the manufacture of goods,” the plea agreement says. However, Hochfelder and his wife did not have such a deal in place, and he told a subordinate to forge a purchase order from the retailer to bolster his story, according to the plea agreement.
The person gave him $150,000 based on this forged purchase order, which Hochfelder used to pay off personal expenses and debts, according to the plea agreement. He repaid the person after they confronted him, the plea deal states.
The final incident also began in 2016, when Hochfelder received about $295,000 from four people with whom he had discussed buying a distressed property in Manhattan, court documents state. He said that he had a personal relationship with a large bank and could get a good deal on the apartment building since its mortgage was in default, according to the plea deal.
“However, the property had no such mortgage on it and was not available for sale,” the district attorney’s office said.
Hochfelder used the money from these people on personal expenses and debts and to pay back the person he owed money to over the fraudulent fashion deal, the plea deal says. He ultimately repaid the people who gave him money on the mortgage deal after several requests, according to the court papers.
Under his plea agreement, Hochfelder paid back $1 million from his prior fraud case. He also must pay back the $12,000 he still owes to one person from the Knicks tickets scheme, and he will be sentenced to 12 months in jail if he violates any terms of his discharge.
“I am happy that this has all been amicably resolved. Everyone involved in the real estate and loan transactions earned substantial profits and continue their business and personal relationships with us,” Hochfelder said in a prepared statement.
His attorneys Marc Agnifilo and Adam Miller said in a statement that “Under the agreed upon resolution, other than making an immediate payment related to a 2010 matter and amending the 2010 restitution agreement, there are no penalties or punishment.”
Hochfelder now works for Merchants Hospitality Group, where he is the head of acquisitions and development. The company owns the Cachet Boutique hotel on the Far West Side, another Cachet property in Cabo San Lucas, and recently bought the Z Hotel in Long Island City for $32.25 million. Merchants is also a key player in the Playboy Club at 510 West 42nd Street.
He has been on the New York City real estate scene since the late 1990s, when his firm Max Capital Management put together an impressive portfolio of Manhattan trophy properties, including 450 West 33rd Street, 230 and 237 Park Avenue.
Richard Cohn, a partner at Merchants Hospitality, described the plea deal as a resolution to a “private matter.” He further said that “Merchants Hospitality and Mr. Hochfelder continue to acquire real estate and hospitality properties globally, as we grow our high-quality portfolio of assets.”