Two former news media top executives pleaded guilty to a scheme in which they fraudulently secured $35 million in loans then used the money to buy land in New York and California.
Etienne Uzac, who was co-owner of Newsweek Media Group and IBT Media; and William Anderson, the former CEO of Christian Media Corporation, admitted to money laundering and fraud charges, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced on Friday.
Authorities said the two men took out loans to buy pricey computer equipment, then through a web of corporate bank accounts — and with the help of their companies that were also charged — used most of the funds to buy up land.
The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the real estate involved in the case.
Uzac and Anderson were not immediately available for comment. They will be sentenced on April 20.
The three companies that were named along with the men: IBT Media, Christian Media Corp. and independent equipment vendor Oikos Networks, pleaded guilty this week to their parts in the scheme.
The DA’s investigation into the scheme became public in January 2018 when officials obtained a warrant to seize 18 servers from Newsweek Media Group’s New York City offices.
That October, Uzac tweeted a statement denying the allegations, claiming equipment lenders were repaid and accusing Vance of retribution for an article IBT published about the prosecutor’s handling of sexual assault allegations against disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein is now standing trial in Manhattan, on charges brought by Vance’s office.
Attorney Marc Agnifilo is representing Uzac and in a statement provided to Newsweek, he said while his client “exhibited poor judgment in how he secured certain loans, today’s disposition appropriately reflects that these loans were repaid. Mr. Uzac, who has never been in any legal trouble, looks forward to moving past this difficult chapter.”
Agnifilo did not respond to requests for comment.
Write to Erin Hudson at [email protected]